Laugh if you want, but one of the best lessons I learned early on in motherhood came not from my own mother nor any other wisened family member or friend but from the pages of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh. See, the prominent school of thought that surrounded me as a brand new Mommy related that babies should begin learning independence immediately after birth, and that to delay such instruction would lead to spoiled children and loads of problems later in life. All of this fine advice resulted in my being a sad, confused, stressed and self-doubting mother with a baby who cried SO VERY MUCH and never quite got enough of the things she really needed.
As we sat together one day in our pink chair in the nursery, Bean nursing frantically while I read to her clumsily from the Pooh book, I happened across a picture of that beloved mother/child pair, Kanga and Roo. And something about the loving pose Kanga held as she cradled Roo in her pouch... the serene look on her face... the cozy connectedness of Mama and baby... aroused in me longing in me I had to pause and contemplate. And it occured to me that all mothers share a common purpose - to protect and nuture the offspring we've produced. And that just as Kanga's Roo would have been born and then quickly snuggled into her pouch to remain nearly as attached to her as he was in her womb, my Bean (and I) craved a similarly gentle transition from being completely attached to being completely separate.
The moment with Kanga and Roo brought about a monumental change in the relationship I was developing with my own precious daughter - a blessed change that supported my innate desire and instincts to keep her safe and close to me, allow her to nurse comfortably whenever she was hungry, and to be flexible and put her needs first as she adjusted to life outside of my body. I could hold and wear and cuddle and snuggle my sweet little baby all I wanted, for God had created in me the natural disposition to do just that, and He'd created in Bean a sweet baby to need it. What a miraculous lesson delivered just in time, and in just the right way.
My advice? Put your tiny newborn in your own "pouch" and soak one another up while she's tiny and fragile and needs you so. Forget everything else and be completely with and for your teeny tiny baby. Take it from the Mama of an almost three-year-old... independence comes quickly and with very little encouragement, so there's no need to rush toward it until both of you feel ready.
For more great parenting lessons, check out the weekly WFMW ideas at Rocks in My Dryer.