I belong to a group online comprised of local moms in the tri-county area. Occasionally it is a source of good information or recommendations although usually, sadly, it is a breeding place for pointed fingers and accusations and "if you don't agree with me, you're wrong." Recently a new mother had inquired about how she was told she was potentially harming her infant by rocking her to sleep. My heart hurt for her because two years ago I was a new mom and crumbling under the pressure of the things that the Internet said I should and shouldn't be doing, the things it said my son should and shouldn't be doing. Each time I kissed his tiny forehead goodnight, the Internet assured me I had doomed him forever at least a hundred times that day, maybe more.
The thing is, I believe in babies being babies. I believe that, at only two, there is nothing wrong with me rocking Ethan to sleep or laying with him in his room at his request. He is only two. He relies on me, as a parent, for everything else that I can't see why comfort should be any different. I can't see the harm in my child comfortably falling asleep in my arms, or with one of us laying next to him, or as I'm singing him his favorite lullaby songs. Babies aren't babies forever. Rocking him to sleep at two does not mean that I will still be needing to do so when he's eighteen and moving away to college. But right now he's a baby, and right now he needs me.
For every "stop babying him so much," I can only offer up a "...but he's a baby."
We teach a lot of practical life skills and do a lot of independent activities in our home. I'm pretty much a stickler for teaching practical life situations and helping Ethan find his independence. I do cherish every moment when Ethan walks up to me and proclaims "did it myself!" about an activity, clothing, art project, whatever. But the fact of the matter is he's only two. As genius as I think it is when he can sight read his name, pour water into a cup or draw something that sort of resembles a circle if you cross your eyes and tilt your head to the left, it hardly means he's on the verge of adulthood. I'm still changing his diapers. I'm still preparing his meals. I'm still the person he runs to when he's sad, scared or hurt. I'm still the one scheduling his doctor appointments and making sure he's cared for, content, happy. My arms are still the place he wants to be when he just needs a hug, needs his mommy, needs to be comforted. And I'm cool with that, because, you know, he's only a baby.
Yesterday I asked my husband if he realized that one day Ethan would be a teenager and someone would break his heart and he would be sad. My husband acknowledged this would likely be so. There will be plenty of days for heartbreak, for sadness, for feeling scared, for homework, for unhappiness -- that right now I'm focusing on the now. On enjoying this time with my baby for as long as he is one. For as long as he needs me, for as long as my hand holding his at nighttime is enough to bring him comfort and make him feel better when he's scared. One day I'll have to take him to school and not Mommy & Me classes -- "you'll have to institutionalize me," I half-joke to my husband whenever we discuss that part of the future -- and these days will all be a foggy memory.
So, yes, right now I will baby my baby to my heart's content. I will kiss his boo-boos and help him brush his teeth. I will rock him to sleep at night and sing him his favorite lullaby songs. I will help him explore his room for imaginary Pirate Boys that only he can see. I will encourage him to keep being a baby for as long as he is one, as long as time will let him stay one, because one day he won't be anymore. And somehow, really, I don't think he will be harmed in the process.