Let’s get real for a moment. We don’t always enjoy all of our children all of the time. Some of them are more difficult to deal with then others. It can be very easy to lavish praise and time on one child who responds the way you want them to and who is not prone to fit throwing when things don’t go their way. It is harder to spend that quality time with the child that is known to melt on the floor at the drop of a hat, the blowing of the breeze, or any other unknown.
Yes, it’s that child I want to talk about today. My melter thinks I am the most amazing person in his life. He follows me about, clings to my leg, and generally does not want to be out of my sight.
You see, I was 29 when our first baby was born and had no idea how selfish, and self-centered I had become in all those years. Our first daughter, though loving attention, is more independent and generally just wants attention from someone not necessarily from Mom. That was an adjustment enough for me, to go from being independent to be needed 24/7. It should not have been such a shock since my life goal was to be a mom and a wife, but I truly had no idea what I was getting into. Along came baby number 2, and not only did he need me 24/7, but he really needed me 24/7. No one else would do. He liked Daddy, and would play with him but he really wanted Mom. At family functions, Church, anywhere, he just wanted his mom. It’s stressful when you can’t pawn them off to go to the bathroom or down the communion line without them screaming and fit throwing and all of those things I swore that none of my kids would ever do. I honestly didn’t know how to cope or how to deal with not having just loving feelings towards my baby (and then toddler).
As a kid I remember my mom lamenting her struggle with one of my brothers when he was young, and thinking that was not what I wanted for my relationship with my son. I would find myself just wanted to pawn him off and generally frustrated on a daily basis. All he wanted was more mom love.
And then, at the height of my frustration and feelings of dread, we found out that baby number 3 was on the way. I found myself filled with joy at her soon arrival yet wondering how I was going to cope with 3 when 2 was more stressful than anything I’d experienced before in my life. There was the question of how I was going to deal with a baby who needed me 24/7 and a toddler who thought he needed me 24 7 and only me.
When Little Miss Anna showed up, she was the easiest baby that I could have hoped for. She loves daddy the most, and I was never so happy to not be the favorite parent. At night when she wakes up, she calls her daddy first. Somewhere along the line, I was too tired to cater to child number two’s every need and I found him becoming less needy and me becoming less frustrated.
But that didn’t take away from the fact that he still needed me so much. I didn’t want to find myself resenting our child but here I was resenting all of his neediness, him stuck to my leg while I was trying to work, calling for me constantly, wanting me to be with him all of the time, even at night.
You might say, “Well honey, that’s what being a parent sounds like.
I would say, “I’m a parent of 4 kids and he is more needy than the other three.”
Well, we come to the point, the point where I realized that things could not continue as they were. I had already had three years to see that he was not going to change, so that left me to change, and to especially change my attitude. And I didn’t want to find myself resenting him anymore because I didn’t know how to deal with him, how to deal with the many fits, all the screaming and crying over nothing that I could figure out. I didn’t want him to not want me when he got older because I didn’t know how to deal with him as a baby and a toddler.
Now I find myself enjoying Him. Let me tell you the simple thing I did and do daily. I say to myself “he loves me, he loves me, he loves me”. And when he is being super clingy and using his super whiney voice to get my attention I try to take myself away from what I’m doing and give him attention like he wants. If I can’t, I tell him to quietly sit down near me or go lay down on his bed til he Is calm. Is it the easiest thing? Quite often no. But does it make it better? Yes! Yes because my attitude is better, and yes because me stopping what I’m doing to figure out what he needs attention wise allows him to feel free to go play and do other things without me because he knows that I am there.
I regret that it took so long for me to figure out how to help him but I am so glad that I did. I find myself enjoying his company more and finding joy in the little things. And now as I sit with baby number 4 on my lap, I know that I can handle whatever comes our way. If he is a difficult boy, we can deal with that.
This sharing comes down to my attitude made the difference. My response to his emotions and melting makes the difference. I can either calm the situation down by calmly handling him or I can escalate the situation by allowing his response to set me off on a frustrated tiraid.
I have to laugh as I realise all those years of waitressing taught me a lot about keeping large groups of hungry people calm while they waited for their food, yet it still took me so long to figure out how to handle one little, emotional person.
The upshot? You can get through this, just keep trying and praying and walking humbly in love.