Sunday, November 2, 2008


I didn't really realize it until very recently, but it's true. I am a paranoid, overprotective Mom.

I do all kinds of things that are really no service to Gwen. For example, she can now roll both ways, but she finds it a bit more challenging to go from her tummy to her back, and will often squawk in frustration, kicking her legs futilely into the air, looking like a turtle on its back (except, you know, she's on her front). I get up from whatever I'm doing and go flip her over before the whining starts to grate on my nerves. Then a few minutes later we do it all over again. How will she ever feel self-reliant if I solve this problem for her every time?

Now that I can see it, I'm really ashamed of it. Letting her suck to sleep every night (and every naptime) is a version of the same problem. How will she ever learn that she can sleep without sucking, if she never has the opportunity to do so? And now I've started feeding her solids, which is a laugh because I am so terrified of her choking that I crush her food into the smallest bits possible and then still hold my breath when she swallows, hoping she doesn't start to gag or turn blue.

Gwen gets a lot of solitary play time, which I think is good, because I have many fond memories of solitary play and want her to have that experience too. On the other hand, when she is playing on her blanket and I see her get too close to the wall or to the edge of the mat (where, conceivably, she could roll off and bonk her head on the wood floor) I intervene and move her back to the center. As Janice pointed out to me, Gwen is going to get many bumps and bruises as she becomes more mobile - I cannot always prevent them, and really, they are not a big deal! I'm just so in the habit of protecting her that I am unsure how to step back.

I've been re-reading Your Self-Reliant Child by Magda Gerber and thinking a lot about how my current habits with Gwen really differ from what Magda teaches. Crying is another example. Magda teaches that we all need and deserve the chance to express our feelings, whether negative or positive. When Gwen cries, she is expressing sadness, frustration, anger, or a host of other things. When I rush in to stop her crying - without even being sure what the cause is - I am squelching her expression. Of course that is an easy concept to understand but a hard practice to carry out because no one likes listening to a crying baby.


Jen said...

I hear ya. I think, to some extent, I do the same things. It is really hard to curb!

Speaking of bumps...Anderson had his first roll from the couch to the floor today. And we have hardwood. Ouch!

Amberism said...

I've started this comment 15 times, but really what I want to say is trust your own instincts.

On the one hand, I honestly don't see anything wrong with a 6 month old sucking to sleep. She's wee, she needs her Mommy, and to me, that's ok and I wouldn't consider it a disservice. I don't think answering a child's cry is a disservice either, though. (don't get me wrong, my kids cry, often.)

The time will come when you know that it has to change.

Then again, maybe now is the time you know it has to change. At any rate, I think Laura knows a lot more about what Gwen needs to become self-reliant than Ms. Gerber (or Amber!) does.


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