Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Morning goodbyes

Carter has been clinging to me and crying when I leave in the mornings lately. This morning was particularly bad. I know he'll be fine, but still, it's SO HARD.

This is relatively new, and I know it's a developmental phase and totally normal. I also know it's a GOOD sign, that it means he has a solid attachment to me and is upset when I leave because he recognizes me as his mommy and caregiver, someone he loves and needs. Until a couple of weeks ago, he would fuss a little when I left, but Michelle could engage him in something else pretty easily. Lately though, she's said he wants to sit in her lap and cuddle for a while after I've gone, that he seems really sad about it. So it's suddenly extra hard, which is difficult for both of us.

I don't believe in sneaking away when your child isn't looking, so I make a point of saying goodbye and giving him a hug and a kiss. IMO, if you sneak off when they aren't looking, the message they get is that Mommy (or Parent) could disappear at any moment, and they can become more clingy because of that uncertainty. It comes down to an issue of respect, generally. I know he will be upset when I leave, and I respect his feelings. Sneaking away when he's not looking would seem dishonest, but it would also seem like I am saying that I don't recognize that me being away from him is hard for him, that's it's not important enough to me to let him know that I'm going.

On top of that, I feel strongly that you shouldn't squash or deny kids' negative emotions. (My biggest pet peeve is when a child falls down or cries for whatever reason, and the parents immediately say, "You're okay!" without even stopping to consider why the child might be crying. As if your child is incapable of deciding for himself when he's okay and when he isn't! How is that helping him learn to grow into an independent, confident person, yanno?) When you do, the message they get is that emotions are bad things, things to be avoided at all costs. I am especially sensitive about that issue for boys.

So my goal here isn't to find a way to stop Carter from crying when I leave, because that wouldn't fix the underlying issue he is struggling with -- that he is upset when I leave him. I want to find ways to reassure him that I will indeed come back, and that I miss him too. It may just take time. I'm not sure.

But walking away from him while he's struggling in Michelle's arms and crying, "Mommy no go!" is probably the worst moment of my whole day. :-(

Of course, when I come home, the response is sheer joy, which is great! Until recently, he would smile when I came in and run over for a hug, but then go back to whatever he was doing. Now he squeals, runs to me, asks to be picked up, and immediately asks to nurse. I've always heard other moms say that their baby gets a look of delight on his/her face when they lift their shirt to nurse, and until now I've never seen it. When Carter sits on my lap and sees that yes, he's about to get milk, he gets absolutely giddy!

So this phase has its advantages and disadvantages, as they all do.

1 comment:

Laura said...

Interesting thoughts about the "you're okay!" issue. We took the stance early on that we would always say something like "Are you okay?" but at the same time not over-react. I think it's been really helpful for Riley. In general, she decides if she's hurting, instead of looking to us to gauge our reaction to see if she should be hurting. I see the latter a lot with other toddlers, although I also I know that it can be at time an attention getting thing (which could be a sign of something else...)

Anyway, sorry to go on. I just think those types of decisions that parents have to make all the time are really interesting. :)