Fletcher, my soon to be 5 year old, was my first baby. He is still my cuddler and his happiest moments are always when he lays his head on my stomach. He says “I love your tummy, mommy.” and lays there completely content. There are times when he is being difficult and we are both agitated, those are the days he needs cuddling the most. It is his centering mechanism.
I feel like Fletcher and I have a special, and close relationship. He was attached to me, quite literally, for more than 1.5 years. We slept together, he napped in my arms, he slept in my bed next to me, he rode in a carrier for most of our outings, I rocked him and nursed him countless hours. As a first child he received more than attention- I doted on him and my life suddenly meant that I was his mommy. It was wonderful in most ways.
These days he is older and cuddling is the sole survivor of our earliest days. Fletcher comes to me after school with the biggest hug. He practically runs over anyone in his path to reach me. At home, he will very randomly tell me, “Mom, you’re my heart!” while making the shape of a heart with his hands. He has more empathy than most 5 year olds I’ve encountered, and if I’m showing visible distress or sadness I can tell it is hurting him too.
Our baby days are long gone. In fact, my youngest son just weaned a few days ago. He sleeps in his own bed for most of the night and I join him if he wakes in his bed. I still enjoy our family naps- they are the best part of any day if it happens. I don’t want to give those up but seeing as how my boys no longer nap, we might have to. Slowly, those bonding mechanisms that made me feel so close to my children- nursing, babywearing, co-sleeping, these are all slipping away. Now I’m going to have to connect in new ways.
We aren’t immune to technology or the division and isolation it can create. I also don’t want my son to miss out on the opportunities technology might hold for him and I enjoy seeing him bond with his father while they play RPG’s. I was even secretly proud when I learned he had his own username for his adventures. In fact, my happiest memories as a child all involve watching my parents play Zelda and my cousins and I playing Mario games on the NES together. I plan to play the same games with my children, in moderation, and not let technology isolate us. Rather, it can bring us together. The family that games together, stays together- right?!
Lately, now that Fletcher has started school, I’m finding his homework time to be another way to stay close to him. I’m amazed at his intelligence and insight and can’t help but beam with pride. Yes- I’m a mom! With Everett, we spend time together studying books on dinosaurs and doing puzzles. Next week that may change and we will all adapt, once again, to find new ways to bond.
I credit our parenting style, a loose adaptation of “attachment parenting,” with starting our relationships off right. I know my children would still love me and be close with me if I had bottle fed them, or if they slept in a crib, but they are the most happy when we are physically connected. That can’t be a coincidence! Our many hours babywearing, our many hours breastfeeding, our many hours sleeping together, that comfort, that peace, that sense of safety doesn’t disappear. Despite how hard some of our days were for this very reason, how very touched out I could get after being connected more than not, I see now the bonds I’ve created with my children. Fletcher thrives at school so I’m not worried that our closeness negatively impacted his independence. Attached children can cope just as well as those raised in a more traditional sense when off without their parents. Having the distance from his babyhood gives me more perpective on how well he has turned out and how thankful I am to have trusted my instinctual parenting before I even knew what attachment parenting was.
If you don’t mind sharing, how are you creating a lifelong bond with your child? Leave a comment!
This post is sponsored by Boba baby carriers as part of the Boba Ambassador Program. The opinions and text are all mine. Follow Boba on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to get more information about creating lifelong bonds with your children.