I’ve always been somewhat of an anxious person. A worrywart. But as I’ve got older and I’ve overcome hurdles in life where I’ve felt low or suffered with anxiety, I’ve learnt how to manage it. Control it. But is that even the right word; control. I feel like that is quite a negative word and with my current anxiety relating to my son and leaving him overnight I don’t want to put a negative spin on things. I want to be realistic about how I am feeling and reassure others that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way.
I don’t know if I’d term myself as an attachment parent because I didn’t co-sleep with Josh and never wanted to, but I am certainly an attached parent in terms of things such as extended breastfeeding (Josh naturally stopped at 15 months and I was broken hearted- I miss that bond even today and he has just turned two) and in terms of the fact that I do tend to do everything with Josh. I love being with him, he brings out the best in me and I am so grateful that he is my little boy.
I’ve always been aware that my attachment to Josh is perhaps a little extreme. I miss him when we’re not together and I have only ever left him overnight once when my husband took me away for a night when Josh was about 10 months old. I remember when we went to pick him up the next day I was even more excited than I had been about going away for a night in the first place! Since then I’ve not left him again and now that he is two and we have a second baby on the way, it has been playing on my mind that I perhaps need to be a little less attached and let go a bit.
I am not totally suffocating though; Josh has been doing one morning at nursery a week and it is a blessing for both of us. Josh loves going there and I get to have a morning to myself, usually working although I am taking it much easier now that I am heavily pregnant. When I first took him there, like most Mums, I cried the entire journey home. I felt so guilty; was he wondering why I’d dumped him in this unfamiliar place, would he not know where I was. Of course he was fine and the nursery called to reassure me of this within half an hour of me getting home. And he still loves it now.
If I’m honest the problem isn’t Josh. Not really. It’s me. I sometimes feel like I really have to justify my behaviour in this respect perhaps to try and make sense of it myself. I have had so many kind offers from my Mother in Law to have Josh overnight to give me a break. And I need a break; I’m in the third trimester, I’m tired, and usually I use all my free time to blog or to do work. Now I am trying to take that time for me; selfishly (perhaps) having a coffee by myself or getting my nails done; or at least this is something I love the idea of because so far I have to admit, each time I have either said no because we might have plans, or it’s conveniently fallen through and I’ve felt almost relived as I won’t have to be away from him. But deep down I know the longer I am leaving it, the harder it’s going to be. I am a great believer in not doing things until you are ready to do them though and I am now at the point where I have to admit, I need that break. I feel like I need to make myself ready.
I ended up bringing this up with my Health Visitor last week who was fully supportive and agreed that it’s like pulling the plaster off; the sooner I do it the easier I might find the transition. So I delighted my Mother in Law by phoning her and saying we were going to give it a go. This Friday I am going to meet up with her and let her take Josh back to the farm for a sleepover and we will go and pick him up on Saturday. To so many of you reading this I can imagine you rolling your eyes and wondering what on earth the big deal is but to me it’s a massive deal.
I know having separation anxiety from Josh is something I have to work on. It’s something I need to overcome especially before the next baby arrives and I’ve got two of them to look after. And don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that Josh is a perfect toddler and a constant joy to look after; he is bloody hard work and so many times in the day I’ve thought “please can someone just come and take him off my hands for a bit”. But for some reason, when it gets to that lovely evening time when we read, we have milk and have a quiet snuggle together before bed the thought of not being the one to put him to bed feels alien to me. And then I worry that he’s going to wake in the night and wonder where Mama is. The thought of his confused face and feeling sad because I’m not there breaks my heart a bit. But the reality is this; I know it is more likely that he won’t give a toss who goes to him in the night, so long as someone is there to give him some milk it’s unlikely he’s going to care. He knows his Granny, who I trust implicitly, he knows the farm and has stayed there with us many times. As you can tell from all of this, the only issue is me and my inability to leave him overnight.
I think now it’s important I adjust a bit. I don’t ever want to be a Mum who holds Josh or my future children back in any way. But at the same time I am a very hands on Mum and I love that bond I have with Josh, that closeness. The way I’ve brought Josh up has felt entirely natural. I used to be a bit (!) of a party girl, it took a whole before I felt that maternal instinct and a desire for children but as soon as I fell pregnant I felt like a Mother. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those I am close to, seeing such a different side to me may have thought I’d become a bit uptight; I didn’t drink, I wouldn’t eat about a million foods “just in case”. I just never wanted to do anything that wasn’t entirely safe for my baby. From the moment that positive came up on my test, that baby came first before me and anything I wanted and that’s how it remains today. And that goes for Josh and the new baby.
When it comes to baby number two I plan to parent in a very similar way. I want to embrace baby wearing a lot more and of course I feel very passionate about breastfeeding and will do everything in my power to establish feeding and continuing for as long as the baby wants to. I love the bond I feel as a mother, even now to my unborn child; I can’t communicate with him or her much beyond talking to the bump and giving it a prod when he or she kicks, but for me that is the start of our relationship as Mama and child. I honestly am so excited to breastfeed again; I feel so strongly about it. For me breastfeeding is about love and nurturing and yet it has become normal to hide it and shy away from it. I want to take that normal and toss it! I want to help other Mums who struggle with feeding and reassure them it does get easier and that they shouldn’t be judged for feeding in public. As I say this is MY choice; I respect that nursing isn’t for every Mum and I support and respect all Mums in their choices. I am just talking about my choices for my baby in this respect and I don’t want anyone to ever think I am being judgemental towards others.
I also know if I learn to relax a bit it can only help me as a Mum. I don’t want to be constantly worrying but I feel as a Mother we are always worrying about something; has he had enough fresh air, will he pick up that bug, has he had enough to eat today, did I allow him too much TV today. And all those worries only come down to the fact I want to be the best Mum I can be. A caring and dedicated Mum.
So wish me luck with this week; for me it’s a huge step letting Josh go overnight without me. And I look forward to letting you all know how it goes for me and for him. I don’t know if what I have said here seems odd, or has come as a surprise to anyone who regularly reads my blog, but I hope some of you will understand and relate. Attachment parenting certainly doesn’t make you a bad parent.