Intentional parenting

When my baby is clingy, I will savour it

​The past week has been another sleepless one. Henry is still teething (but these three are almost through – hooray!)

I really struggled last week with Henry’s clinginess. I’d put him on his tummy to play and he’d whinge. I’d lay him on his back and he’d whinge. I’d put him in his bouncer and he’d whinge. I’d walk him in the pram and he’d whinge. It was never-ending. I just wanted to scream at him, but I fought the urge (save that for his teenage years, I reasoned).

I found myself saying things in my own whingy voice like “what do you want?” and “pleeeease just be quiet!” My wishes for silence were made to no avail.

As a result, I spent a lot of last week with Henry on my hip.

He stopped whinging the second I picked him up. He’d smile or laugh or nuzzle into my neck for a cuddle. When he was in my arms, he was playful and happy. Oh so happy. But I didn’t see this as a good thing. Instead, it made me more frustrated. My initial response was to think oh my goodness, see! There’s nothing wrong with you; you’re just being a whinger!

By Thursday, I was really losing patience. I just wanted him off me. I wanted to be able to pour my tea (ok fine, my wine) without Henry grabbing at it. I wanted him to stop pulling my hair out. I wanted to eat a meal without him on my lap. I wanted to hang the washing out without him pulling all the pegs off.

On Friday, Henry and I spent the day with Sam at work to help out due to staff being off sick. Henry was all smiles because he had not just my attention, but Sam’s as well. We had a great day. Great until the car trip home anyway.

Henry screamed from door to door. He cried so much he sounded like he was choking. I started off saying things like “it’s okay little one, we’ll be home soon.” I sang to him. I told him he was okay. I recited Slinki Malinki. Nothing worked.

We pulled into the garage. I ran to his door and opened it. He was red and sweaty. Tears covered his face. I pulled him into my arms and there it was. That smile. I wiped his tears and he nuzzled in for a cuddle. I thought again, see! There’s nothing wrong with you! 

But then, I had an epiphany and all my frustrations faded away. I realised that I’d been frustrated with Henry all week for being happy when I was holding him. That doesn’t make sense, I admitted to myself.

I realised that the way Henry has been feeling is exactly how I want him to feel. He is teething and has been in pain. He has felt the need for comfort and he has known that I will comfort him. Yes, his increased need for physical affection changed what my regular week looks like, but that is of no consequence. What would be of consequence is that I could not provide my baby with what he needed.

No matter what age Henry is, I want him to feel safe, loved and secure. I want him to trust that I will be there when he needs me. I want to comfort him with words and actions alike. I want him to know that he is not a burden on the days he doesn’t feel well.

Sure, there are days during clingy periods that I wish Henry wasn’t so clingy. But the clingy days are far outnumbered by the ones where he visibly thriving. So the next time I find myself getting frustrated, I will remind myself of what I want Henry to feel and act accordingly. I will take comfort in the fact that he knows I will respond to him and nurture him.

I will savour the extra cuddles that his clinginess affords me at the moment because it won’t be long until he doesn’t want to cuddle me anymore.  It won’t be long before he’s is saying “mum go away, I just want to play on my own.” What a sad day that will be!

Beth x

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