At 31 months old, Gillian is hitting a whack of milestones. Beyond the fierce need to do everything herself, each day she surprises me by growing out of her naps, potty training instead of diapers and stringing together words to form full sentences that actually make sense. There is a downside to these new achievements: She’s a teary, clingy mess most of the time because, like Teresa Pitman said in this article, her brain moves faster than her body at this age so she’s easily frustrated. It seems that only full-on physical contact nearly 24 hours a day settles her down. During the day she is on my hip, at night she is wedged between myself and my husband, deserting her own bed in the middle of the night and climbing in with us. Over and over I tell myself (and hear from others) that one day she won’t need me and I’ll miss her cuddles.
Should I blame myself for this clinginess through my commitment to babywearing, extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping? I did none of these with our son and he’s wonderfully independent (but I also worked full-time and was spared this stage in toddler development). While advocates claim that attachment parenting create more emotionally secure children, my experience with my daughter makes me question these claims. Did I somehow spoil my baby by holding her close all the time? Have I sentenced myself to spending the rest of my daughter’s childhood with her glued to me? If so, I’m not sure I’ll come out of it with my sanity intact.
Don’t get me wrong — I credit co-sleeping and babywearing with helping me bond with my daughter and getting me through postpartum depression (when I was convinced she was switched at birth and didn’t want to touch her, nevermind actually care for her). I just assumed that by this age she’d be done with wanting to nurse and being carried — and I certainly never pictured still doing both. Deep breaths, long runs and yes, plenty of cuddles with my girl will get me through this, right?
What has been your experience?
Photo by The Mamarazzi.