CONNECTED

September 8, 2014

Somewhere along the way in our society, a firm distinction between being connected to your child and being too connected to your child was made, and the ladder has been thrown into a dump pile of things not to do as a parent. Connect with your child but not too much because otherwise they will never have independence or go off into the world confidently and you'll have an 11 year old who still wants to nurse, 'they' say. I have to admit that I am extremely connected to my child but I don't think there is such a thing as being too connected. I really don't. The facts are, she is my child, I am her mother. I am building a relationship with her to last the rest of my life AND to help her succeed when she starts to build her own life. I was talking with another mother who feels the same as I, who at some point in her journey was told she plays too much with her children. PLAYS TOO MUCH WITH HER OWN KIDS! Doesn't that sound so incredibly ridiculous?

I have not left my child overnight yet, she still nurses a couple times a day (judge if you must but know she will not nurse forever and hey, it doesn't affect you :) and we are in the same room almost every moment. But here's the thing - she's happy and thriving and wonderful. She's fine when I need to leave her with a sitter, she explores on her own at the playground and loves other kids, has never met a stranger and is willing to say hi to every single person she encounters. So I guess I wonder why society makes you feel like you should want to leave your kid overnight somewhere, or stop nursing at the 12 month mark, or drop your kid off at daycare or playgroup a couple days a week. All of those things are great - if you want a night away, or are sick of nursing (or can't) or have to work and your kid needs childcare- I get it and know that being with a kid every second of the day is not everyone's cup of tea and if you are able to recognize that in yourself you are doing what's best for your child and will ultimately be a better mom, but what I'm saying is that because I choose to (and more importantly, want to) be with my child so much, I am lumped into a category of parents who need to give their children more space. I know a time will come when she wants nothing to do with me - no matter how attached we are now, she will become a preteen one day and it will happen.

But for now, as the mother of a 19 month old, being attached feels right and good and like I'm setting the foundation for her to be a confident little thing when the time comes for her to be on her own.

Does anyone else feel like this?

16 COMMENTS:

  1. Welp, I'm guilty of this whole "connecting with my kid" too. I was vehemently against breastfeeding while pregnant, but like so many people told me, once you have your baby in your arms for the first time all your preconceived opinions go out the window. I love nursing my little boy, I love that it brings him comfort, I also love that he likes other foods too.

    I've run the gamut of never wanting to nurse, to nursing exclusively for the first six months, saying I'm going to stop at 9, and here we are nearing his first birthday and I really don't see the point in stopping. He's not exclusively breastfed anymore, but it's such a wonderful way to connect. I also spend virtually all day with my baby (and we also co-sleep, *ahem i.e. bedshare, please don't judge). But like you, we're not co-dependent, as in, he doesn't cry when he can't see me, and he absolutely adores getting picked up by different people when I bring him into the office. He loves other kids and for all intents and purposes he's pretty damn independent. So, screw all the people making a career by telling you "You're doing it wrong!" Every child is different, has different needs, thrives differently, and every mother-child relationship has its own rhythm. And knowing you and Ruthie as I do, it's a joy to watch what an exceptional job you're doing. :)

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  2. Yes, Tatiana! Thank you so much for this. I think you are spot on - 'Every child is different, has different needs, thrives differently, and every mother-child relationship has its own rhythm.' love that. And same goes for you and Bruce - it's clear you are an amazing mama to that little guy.

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  3. Hi Lindsay! First of all, you are a fantastic mother--you can see it in your pictures, read it through your words, feel your love off the screen. Thank you for the gentle way with which your share your stories, thoughts, and life here on your blog. I love each of your posts. In response to this particular post, I feel moved to say, "YES!" You're right. I imagine that the sweet-spot for the perfect amount of connection varies with every child, parent, and living situation. There is no universal right, but there is what is right for you and your family at this specific moment in time. If my work in Tanzania has taught me anything, it's that what children need is unconditional love, support and guidance. The good thing is that there are a million different ways to love, support, and guide, so everyone can choose their own way. Don't ever second guess yourself... You're giving Ruthie exactly what she needs :)

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    1. You are beyond sweet, Kaitlin. Thank you for the kind words. Really. It means so much.

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  4. I never really understood the saying "society says this" or "society says that". Who the heck is society anyway? When it comes down to it, every mother is doing what they feel is right. If you feel "society" is telling you that you're parenting the wrong way, I think you need to take a step back and analyze where you are getting these messages from. If it's social media, the huffington post, or your neighbor, then stop exposing yourself to those things. Just be a mom.

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    1. I agree with you in that if you feel like there are sources bringing you down or making you feel inadequate, you need to remove yourself from those people or sources, but I think to say that you can just stop exposing yourself to things the masses seem to agree with or flock to, is nearly impossible. Aside from books, blogs, parenting sites, etc - I'm talking real life people. Friends, family, acquaintances. Everyone in my life is always so well intentioned and loves me and my girl, but because of what people are taught or told by "society" they're beliefs are then passed on to others. That's just how it works. So when a mom at the playground tells me I should have a night away or that my child no longer needs to be nursed, I want to be able to say, you know what? we're all doing it our own way - the way that works best for my child and family. (That's the type of situation I'm referring to when I refer to society :)

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    2. Thanks for your reply! I think this is a good example of the real and/or perceived judgement between mothers. I pretty much guarantee I could find a similar post written by a formula feeding, working, cry-it-out mother somewhere out there. The bottom line is 99% of mothers love their children as intensely as you and a much small percentage (hopefully) are the type to openly criticize other moms. We are all in this together and doing the best we can. Cheers to that! In cases where I do feel judged I brush it off and feel confidence in knowing I'm doing what I think is best. Nothing else matters. :)

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    3. Exactly. We are all in this together :)

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  5. oh gosh, lindsay. i've honestly never imagined or heard of being too connected. i know books say not to 'smother' them but not to be too distant. play a little but not too much. hold their hand but not forever. it's a fine line. and honestly, every mama/babe relationship is so different and so special and unique that whatever you choose is going to be right for you. i have a completely different level of 'connection' with each of my babies. william's much more independent and would prefer to play by himself. charlotte is so attached and we're so connected it's nuts (maybe a girl thing? i don't know). but i know that each of these levels of attachment and connection with my kids is right for us. they each need different things from me and i need different things from them.

    if you feel like you're doing it right then you are! anyone who says otherwise needs to just mind their own business.

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    1. thanks, Bri! i am a bit tired of the 'Oh, you've never left your daughter overnight?" "Oh she still nurses!" type of comments and know you are right. I'm doing it the way that is best for her and I right now :)

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  6. I'm right there with you!! This post really spoke to me. I'm really struggling right now bc I'm a teacher and have been able to be with my now 11 month old daughter all summer break. It was SOOO nice! And now, with school starting again, she's part-time daycare, part-time with Grandma, and I HATE it. I want to be with my baby and teach her myself and watch her grow myself and be there for her myself. We built such a connection this summer and I didn't want it to end. Everyone keeps saying how good daycare is to be around kids, to be social, to learn, yada yada yada, but I feel completely against that now. As parents who are VERY social, I don't see my child being an introvert anytime soon. And to learn from others, can you say PLAYDATES!? :) So many of my friends have babies/children and what better than to get some adult time while the kids play? Goodness. I hear you on all of this, well, crap. I'm so sick of it. And every day I'm at work, knowing someone else is getting to connect with my daughter, I'm just ill. I want that back! I love being deeply connected with my daughter! And you go Lindsay! I would be rooting for you! You're doing it right in my mind!!!

    www.appleofmyivy.com

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  7. Love this! I also stay at home and recently put my son Hudson in a Mother's Day out for 4 hours one day a week. Well he went twice he just wasn't ready regardless of what others say, he likes to be right next to me. Which is where he should be, good for you!!

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  8. I am right here with you! I'm still nursing and co-sleeping with my 10 month old. We didn't plan on co-sleeping but it just turned out that way. I feel like every conversation I have with other moms quickly turns into them telling me what I need to do. I've heard everything from "you NEED to let her cry it out, my kid can cry for two hours but we just don't go in" to "it's not good for her to still be nursing" (WHAT??)

    It's frustrating. I feel like I'm at a point where I have to lie just to not get into weird discussions with people. So glad you wrote this! It's nice to know we're not alone.

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    1. Isn't it a shame that we feel (and i'm sure the opposite feels the same in certain situations) have to censor what we share in regards to our parenting styles? I wonder why parenting became about who's doing it right and who's wrong...thankful for people in my life who are supportive :)

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  9. My favorite quote these days is "we're all just walking each other home." I agree that every family and every situation is different. I had my own mom tell me I am too close to my children!!! and I told her that I don't think so, that my goal in life for them, is that they always know they are loved, and that nothing is ever more important than them. I work out of the house, 40-hours a week, occasionally more, so when I am with my children, every second is enjoyed. Yes, tantrums happen, and I need time outs, but I parent how I feel is right. Keep doing what you're doing. Your family is beautiful.

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  10. I read a beautiful memoir about one mother's relationship with her daughter. You may enjoy it, as it explores this idea if being "too close" as her child grew older. It is called The End of Everything by Michelle Herman, a writer and teacher at Ohio State.

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