In this country we have cultivated ideals about parenting that are simply not beneficial to children.
For example, I have never been terribly fond of the baby entertainers and I skipped registering for them. I bought a boucy seat at a consignment store so I would have a safe place to put my son that was easily portable and visual for me, but I believed they were not a healthy place for a baby to spend a lot of time, especially asleep, so I didn't try to put him in it a lot. Mostly just so I could take a shower every now and then. He hated it and I would have all of five minutes to shower if I was lucky before he flipped out.
Why? Because babies are not hard-wired to want to bounce in a seat alone, strapped into a harness, with some silly little stuffed animal dancing around in their faces. They're hard-wired to want mama (or maybe sometimes dada) and they want her all the time.
All. The. Time.
And that's normal.
Maybe there are a lot of babies out there who are perfectly happy to sit contently in a bouncy seat or on a play mat/gym or in a jumparoo. My kid is not one of them, and I never really expected him to be.
He wanted to be held. So I held him.
I held him while he slept because by his third day, I already knew he slept better and longer if he slept beside me. I held him 90% of the day at least and at night he slept beside me - first in a cocoon, but soon enough in bed with me. In the cocoon, he slept okay, but I didn't. I fretted all night. Beside me in bed, we both slept well for many months.
People told me he needed to learn to sleep alone.
People told me I was spoiling him.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that an infant has the capacity to manipulate, so I responded to his needs. I couldn't imagine anymore why I ever expected him to spend time alone, especially when I was right there beside him. It felt natural, and right.
It reminds me a little of what I dislike the most about disposable diapers. Yeah, of course, I WOULD find a way to bring that up! But in all seriousness, the new Pampers Dry Max is touted for being dry for up to 12 hours, giving babies more uninturrupted play time. But is 12 hours in a wet diaper a good parenting choice?
I like to think that most parents, at least those who can reasonably afford adequate diapers (disposable or otherwise) do not limit diaper changes to 2 per day. No one believes this is ideal. And yet, I kind of think parents who use disposables sort of expect to get a lot of milage out of each diaper. They don't want to change it and throw it away if it isn't, well, "full". Other moms have told me this in person so I'm not making it up in my head. At about 25 cents a pop, you're spending money every time you cahnge your baby.
But my point is illustrated nicely in this because many parents these days seem to think that parenting is largely hands-off. Babies sleep in cribs, play in play yards or on mats or in contraptions they cannot escape, and get carried around in their infant seats, which are now often referred to as "carriers".
But it all comes down to our need to control things we cannot control. If you force your infant to sleep alone and play alone, s/he won't "need" you there all the time and you can have your hands free. Wean, and you get your body back.
But the fact is that babies should be in control of what they need. Parents are there to meet those needs in the way they feel is best. Ignore the diaper and formula commercials, the huge list the baby superstore gives you for a regisrty guide, even forget what your mother tells you. No one else knows what is best, and no product in a store will make parenting easier. They may even do more harm than good!
Raise your children with love and care. They are precious and before you know it, they will stand up, take a few steps, and start an all too short journey away from you.
As for Jack? I have a 14 month old son who is quite secure. Yes, he is "still nursing" and he's happy as a clam about it. So am I! He also wanders off and explores his world. He isn't attached to me all the time anymore, but it's up to him. Boogie decides when he needs to be near me and when he can explore. But he has limits, which he tests constantly. But I live day by day, secure in the knowledge that my son will continue to test me for as long as it takes to him to see exactly where the boundries are. It's a journey we are taking together.