I am a clingy mummy.
There. I’ve said it. I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is.
When small one was born, I didn’t want someone to “take her off my hands for a bit”. I didn’t want to “have a night off”. I didn’t want a night out with the girls, and I didn’t want a romantic meal. And when she slept, I didn’t want to put her down and get some things done… All I wanted was to stare into her beautiful blue eyes and snuggle.
Which, to varying levels is pretty normal, I’d guess, despite the friction it caused at the time (rod for your own back anyone?).
What apparently singles me out, is that those feelings haven’t really gone away. Small one is 2.5 years old and I still haven’t spent a night away from her. We went out for Valentine’s day, which was lovely, but I still felt a pang of sorrow that I wasn’t there when she fell asleep cuddled up in her adoring Grandad’s arms.
She goes to a wonderful, small, home-based nursery twice a week, and I still hate dropping her off at the door. I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of babysitters, and I wouldn’t leave her in a creche.
This isn’t a criticism of those who do, you understand (I’m aware that I’m the odd one), and it’s not a smug “I love my child more than you do” rant. I often wish for peace and quiet, and a little time to myself – I just can’t quite reconcile that with the idea of being away from her.
I know I fit the stereotypes – I breastfed my daughter until she was 2 (clingy…?), back permitting, I preferred a sling to a pram (clingy), small one only got her own room in November, and she co-slept at least part of the time from about 6 months on (clingy, clingy, clingy… can’t let go…). Admittedly the fact there were five of us in a two-up, two-down terrace had some bearing on that last one, but you get the picture. What’s more, given the finances, I would have loved nothing more than being a stay at home mum.
But I would like to set things straight – I’m clingy, not overprotective. I don’t want my daughter tied to my apron strings forever, but I do have this primeval fear of losing her.
I don’t know whether my pregnancy made that worse – I had wanted a child for a long time before I finally fell pregnant, and only 5 weeks into that miraculous pregnancy I was told I was miscarrying. It doesn’t leave you with much emotional balance, and having spent 9 months focusing on keeping her with me, trusting someone else to take on that care is insanely hard.
But more than that, she grows and changes so fast. I hate missing the little wonders in every day that make her face light up with such joy. When her Dad, and big brother and sister take her into town, I’m not really worried they’ll do something wrong. I’m just jealous that they’re there without me, that I am missing out on some precious, unrepeatable moment in her life.
But there has to be a balance. I – who have always been a “kiddy person”, who dreamed of being a stay at home mum… who technically has been a stay at home mum the last few months – miss work. I miss the variety and, if I’m honest, I miss the status. Because stay at home mumming isn’t just the play and the fun – it’s also the bulk of the housework, the general dogsbodying, and the stress of not working and still not spending enough time 100% with your children.
And I need something to fill the void that will be left when small one starts school.
Because I may be a clingy mummy, but my breastfed, co-sleeping, attachment parented, babyworn, and generally adored toddler is an independent little soul. And one day she is going to walk out ofÂ that door without a backward glance, leaving her poor, clingy mother a gibbering wreck in the corner…
And I will be SO proud.