I’m that mom. The one who obsessively keeps track of when her son falls asleep and wakes up. The one who doesn’t like to hand him over when people are all too ready to pounce and hold him. The one who really doesn’t want to be a helicopter parent but can’t help herself.
I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming. With my anxiety, I knew I had a high probability of being an attached parent; although in all fairness, how could one not be? I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my restraint in a lot of ways – waiting a beat before replying to his cries to see if he calms himself, letting him have playtime alone (with a watchful eye always present), and trusting a babysitter to keep my son safe while I’m away. It doesn’t come easy, so I try harder to make the effort.
And both Rowan and I benefit, I think. He gets to flex his independence and experience people outside of our little cocoon (because most of the day it’s just the two of us). I get to have time to myself and reconnect with who I was before baby (she’s still in there!). Because as much as the irrational part of my mind tries to trick me into thinking that my son’s needs won’t be met without me near, the rational part assures me they will be. His time away from me helps him learn about himself and other people, practice his fledgling motor skills, and become adept at self-soothing.
But there seems to be a fine line between being there when your child needs you and being over-attentive. I want Rowan to be a confident, self-reliant person, yet at the same time, he’s only seven months old. I really don’t think I can coddle him at this age. Which begs the question, at what age do your attentive, supportive actions become coddling?
I’m sure there are as many theories for this as there are for sleep training, baby wearing, and all the other great debates on parenting. And I suspect that like the others, the answers are to be taken with a grain of salt and not applicable to every child. So here’s trusting that my mama bear instincts serve me well and that I don’t have an adverse effect on Rowan. I don’t want to be that mom.