Is she too attached?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Aug. 11, 2010, and centers on an issue that many of us know all too well — that of separation anxiety and Attachment Parenting.

baby-kiss-1395713-mMy 8-month-old daughter, Penelope, is going through a separation anxiety phase. If I walk out of her eyesight, even for a second — even if Peter, my husband, or someone else is sitting with her and playing — she cries. She is a mama’s girl right now.

When her anxiety first showed up, I was concerned. I thought, “Oh, what have I done?!” Is she too attached? Have I taken Attachment Parenting to an extreme and done damage? I thought, “Should I finally get a babysitter and leave her with someone other than my husband and ‘teach’ her to be OK” — which, of course, had been so often told to me by neighbors and some friends. I had also been told to simply let her fuss for a bit and not immediately pick her up and tend to her.

Luckily,  I snapped out of my doubt and regained my confidence before I heeded any of that advice.

Even if her behavior is not the stereotypical 8-month-baby-separation-anxiety-phase, and she simply wants me all of the time, that’s perfectly fine with me. I am her mother, she is my baby and we are still deeply connected through my breastmilk that I make for her. To me, breastfeeding feels like an extended, energetic umbilical cord. I hold her all day long; I sleep and cuddle with her all night long. I want to be in close contact with her, as much as she wants to be in close contact with me.

This is what is supposed to be happening. This is how mothering and baby rearing is supposed to be.

One of my most favorite books is the Continuum Concept. When I read it…before I was a mother when I was a nanny…it turned on a light bulb in my head. What a novel idea, that babies are expecting to be with their mothers at all times! They are expecting that Mama — or a really great almost-Mama substitute for the time being, like a fabulous nanny — is going to be right there, every step of the way.

I will admit that sometimes I dream of lounging by the pool, or going out to dinner and then (gasp!) a movie with my husband. But most of the time, I am thrilled to meeting my baby’s every need and demand. I love knowing that she has not once “cried it out” to go to sleep. I love knowing that she knows that if she communicates to me that she needs me, that I will be there, every single time. She completely trusts me, and that makes it all worth it.