(I had planned to publish this post over the Independence Day weekend; however, the lure of holiday overcame me, and, well . . . now it's a little late.)
At the end of June, the four of us traveled to north Texas for a regional meeting of the investment firm Kyle works for. Just an hour after we checked into the hotel, Kyle and I had to attend a meeting. The firm had hired a child care agency to be on-site providing care for the children of advisors and spouses attending the meeting.
After I checked the girls in with the care givers, I took each to their "classrooms." And both of them barely turned around to say "bye!" before racing in to the rooms filled with care givers, activities, and music. I felt a little sad (perhaps un-needed might be a better description), but I felt some other things, too - namely affirmation, confirmation, and just a smidge of vindication.
I write often about the fact that as a brand new mother, I fell under the sway of our culture's wrong thinking, the thinking that proclaims that holding newborns too much makes for spoiled, fussy, utterly dependent babies and children. The books I had read emphasized time and again the importance of moving baby towards detatchment, towards self-soothing, and towards independence.
In the opening chapter of The Baby Book, Dr. William Sears addresses this matter:
The spoiling theory began in the 1920s when experts invaded the realm of child rearing. They scoffed at parental intuition and advocated restraint and detachment. They felt that hold a baby a lot, feeding on cue, and responding to cries would create a clingy, dependent child. There was no scientific basis for this spoiling theory, just unwarranted fears and opinions. (emphasis mine)
It's funny but also sad that a theory that grew into popularity at a time in our culture when women had only recently (and begrudgingly) been given women the right to vote is still so prevalent today. Though more and more mainstream parenting advice is moving towards promoting attachment, you still hear on message boards, Facebook comment discussions, and blog comboxes the voices of the past warning new mamas to be very careful not to create overly-dependent babies by holding, wearing, and sharing sleep with their wee ones.
What science has found and confirmed through the years is that infants who form secure attachments in the first years of life are the ones who grow into more secure, more confident, and - yep! - more independent children and adults.
Exactly two years ago today, I wrote about the joy of watching my once incredibly high-needs baby grow into a beautiful picture of security, confidence, and independence. No one was more surprised than I was that she took so enthusiastically to all-day Pre-K last school year. I continue to be encouraged by and proud of the person she is becoming, though it is a bittersweet feeling, indeed. It's quite a bit more painful to watch Aliza Joy - my baby - race through toddlerhood and on towards three, every day becoming more and more The Big Girl.
Why do I write about this so often? It's all part of the redemption package, my need to keep planting seeds of encouragement, to keep tending to a growing movement of mothers embracing gentle, intuitive parenting, and to keep reminding myself that the days of cling-on little ones are quickly dwindling and that these thoroughly attached children of mine are steadily, perpetually, healthily, and unstoppably moving ever forward into wholeness, entirely independent of me.