First off, a confession. I am sure every mother out there has moments of self-doubt and insecurity and I expected some of the same for myself. What I didn’t expect was how the feeling of rejection might come into play. I mean, seriously, an infant needs a mother for its very existence so how on earth could a mother feel rejected by her child, well at least until the pre-teen stage anyway?! I know the day will come when Reagan will become one of those dreaded teenagers and along with a carefully aimed “I HATE YOU” will come a piercing “YOU’RE NOT EVEN MY REAL MOTHER”. My biggest fear. My largest dread. My worst worry. I hope beyond hope that the first time this happens I can remain calm and show no emotion so as to make her think that phrase has no power and therefore causes her to retire it from her arsenal quickly. Or maybe, maybe, I’ll get lucky and she won’t be one of *those* teens. Maybe.
Anywho, I didn’t expect rejection to come into play until later in her life however I felt it creep in early. She was never a particularly snuggly baby. She liked to be held of course but she also coveted her personal space. And forget cradling her in your arms after the first month or so – she was far too interested in the world beyond to tolerate that. Consequently, my desire to hold her close and snuggle her gently and spend time lounging together was met squarely with her desire to not be held close or snuggled or lounge together. REJECTED! I was reassured by great friends that baby girls tend to not be as snuggly as boys and that some babies are cuddlers and some are not and it had absolutely positively nothing to do with the fact that I did not birth her. A small part of me though, a very fragile part of me, was convinced that was precisely the reason – coupled with the fact that I must have, at some point, or too many times, put her down as a young infant when I should have picked her up. That I should have spent more time rocking her before bed instead of trying to teach her to fall asleep on her own. That I propped her bottle
And the kicker – baby in pain. She didn’t seem to need me all that much for comfort – shots at the doctor, bumped head, fingers stuck in a toy – she’d cry, I’d comfort and she’d quickly recover and push me away. It sometimes felt to me like she got over it on her own more so than she drew comfort from my hugs. That small part of me who fears her rejection now has even more evidence to show the big part of me that knows Reagan needs me and loves me and isn’t rejecting me. That big part of me though couldn’t stop me from carefully looking at pictures of other moms with their babies to see if their babies were also poised as if to get away from them.
(I should probably explain here that she had just sat quietly through an hour of church, a half hour of socializing and we were standing next to a Crismon tree that I wouldn’t let her touch)
So, this all leads up to a recent change in Reagan’s behavior. My non-snuggly baby is suddenly a very snuggly child. Huh? Where did THIS come from?! Not that I’m complaining – I am, in fact, completely overjoyed. Sometimes she will seek me out and request to be picked up just so she can snuggle in my lap. When I get her from her crib or pick her up when I get home from work she immediately goes into hug mode saying “ahhhhhh” and patting my back with her tiny little hands. Then comes kisses followed by even more hugs. And my heart melts. Baby in pain? Straight to mommy for hugs and everyone else better get out of her way. Scared baby? The safest feeling place must be mommy’s arms because that is where she takes refuge and is able to remain calm. And the greatest of all – playtime love. When we are playing on the floor, or in her playhouse, or on the couch, she will periodically and spontaneously just stop and reach for me to give and receive hugs and kisses. There is nothing better in the whole world! She loves me, she really, really loves me! (LOL)
The paradox you ask? Yes, well just as my sweet child is becoming more cuddly and affectionate, she is also asserting her independence more in the form of a brand-new-never-before-heard temper-fueled scream. It’s almost as good as fingernails on a chalkboard. Right now it is still new enough for me to find humor in it however I am sure it will get old quickly. I don’t yet have it on video but plan to get some footage soon. And it shows up at the oddest times – she’s never loved getting dressed but she’s never hated it either but sometimes lately, the banshee scream shows up during changing time. Or as mealtime is coming to a close she will feel the urge to let me know – loudly – that she is finished. Toy doesn’t work just right for her and cover your ears! I won’t say I love this behavior but I will say I am thankful that she is becoming her own person and I pray she remains confident enough in herself to always show who she is and what she wants, just perhaps a little more quietly.
And one final thought – she loves the Dora “We Did It” dance and you have to do it with her and at the very end she will reward you with her hand in the air and her impression of Boots saying “Wooooo”. ADORABLE!!!