The Reasons Why You Cling After Disruption

Dear Daughter,

I found myself becoming frustrated today as you are not “yourself”. I cannot put you down to let you play the way I usually can. You want to lay belly to belly quietly in mommy’s and daddy’s bed and nurse. You want to nurse while you nap. You nursed most of last night and did not sleep well at all. It’s like the six week growth spurt all over again- but you’re ten months old.

I have chores that need to be done.  They’ve built up recently. Laundry to do, floors to sweep clean of crumbs, and the random sticky spots that have cropped up around the kitchen table.

I need to remember the reasons why you cling close after disruption.

Last Friday I volunteered at your brother’s school and you played with your awesome babysitter while I was out of the house for two short hours. Then on Saturday I had the first date with your daddy that I’ve had since you were tiny and still growing in my belly. And then yesterday I had a meeting and was gone from 7AM to 2PM. Then when you really wanted to simply melt into my arms and find your peace again we rushed off to watch your biggest brother at karate. Not significant changes in adult-like terms, but what about to a baby who finds comfort in her routines and in closeness and consistency?

I’m sorry, sweet one. You’re trying to  repair the tiny cracks in our relationship. You’re trying to tell me that you missed me. You’re trying to put in the work and the closeness to return the strength of our attachment. And I’m trying to tick off items on my to-do list that I neglected.

Our relationship is so strong and secure. You trust me so much to meet your needs. Then I’m not there, and you cope so well and play so hard while others that you trust watch you.  And then I come back and you simply want to set everything right again and catch back up to where we were before.

As an adult when I don’t see your father for a day or two and then he comes home and sits down and checks his email.. That makes me sad enough. I can only imagine how silly it must seem to you that I want to put you down to play with a machine full of water and dirty clothes.

You cling to me after disruptions because our relationship is important to you and you’re putting in the work to make it right again.

I wrote this earlier as you slept on my chest. Then I held you and kissed you and talked to you and told you that I missed you and was happy to be home with you again. You glomped down on my nose with spitty baby gums, then squirmed your legs until I put you down so that you could crawl off and look for things to explore.

Yes, little one. You mean the world to me. I’m sorry if I made you doubt that.

<3 Mama

6 thoughts on “The Reasons Why You Cling After Disruption

  1. Love, love, love this! My daughter is the same way. Sometimes it is so frustrating when I want to accomplish things, but she reminds me what is truly important. Love your spin on this!

  2. My heart breaks as I read this. My son’s father just won overnight visitation for one wknd a month of my 13 month old son. He still nurses and wakes quite frequently during the night. He has no idea who his father even is since he hasn’t seen him since he was 6 months old. I am terrifed for my son who will be ripped from for two nights when hes never been away from me for more than a few hours.

    1. Breathe.

      It seems so unimaginable right now, but the less stressed out you can be about it the easier he will find it to go.

      The thing about visitations is that they’re ordered by the court, there is no changing them at the time that they are happening. All you can do to ease them is to stay positive. Before handoff try to envision leaving your son with your favorite person in the whole world for a couple of hours. It makes the handoff easier.

      The first few times you get him back you’re going to be SO sad because he’ll probably react to the separation the second he sees you. He’s gonna do some new stuff and he’s going to be forming a relationship with his dad. This is exciting and wonderful and emotionally charged and when he comes back he’s gonna need a safe place to melt down and reconnect with you.

      If at all possible try to see if dad can spend some time with him BEFORE the weekend that he has to go to visitation so that the two of them can get used to each other. Pack a bag with any comfort objects that your son can have while at visitation. Write down a rough schedule of what he does during the day and let dad know that they will probably adapt the schedule to their time, but that you wanted him to know roughly when your son was used to doing certain things so that if he got upset because he expected something then dad wouldn’t be in the dark about what it is the baby might need.

      All of this advice might sound like something you don’t want to hear right now.. You probably want to hear that someone can make it STOP. Especially if you have worries about how he will care for the child, or if there are other causes of concern. And I’m so sorry. All I can say is that if you get into the practice of making visitation as positive an experience for your child as you possibly can, there are very positive feelings to be found in knowing that you are supporting the child’s relationship with his dad.

      And as impossible as it seems, you get used to the periods of separation. You get used to the “transitional issues” that happen when the child comes back home. And you find a new energy in your relationship with your child.

      I hope things go smoothly for you.

      <3 Sarah

  3. Thank you. As always… I always get frustrated when I want to get stuff done and baby is being extra clingy. I need to realize he is trying to get something done as well, and his need to do list is much more important then mine, so wise little man.

  4. Tears!! Unexpected and a suprise. Your gentle kind words have sung what my heart has felt since starting part time work a few weeks ago. Reminds me to heed my mantra ‘ slow down mummy… gently mummy…. no need to be anywhere but here!’7m DD awake now so off for hugs and cuddles.

Leave a Reply