A conversation came up today about cuddling babies. More specifically it was about when babies “put on a show” to try to be held. Because babies love to be held, and they figure out early on that crying (and other means of fussing) usually makes mom, dad and the grandparents fall prey to the cuddle fest.
To me, that’s perfectly okay..
I live for it. But I know many feel the opposite.
(Now, I truly want to start listing off a bunch of animal/mammal motherly+baby behaviors that may help explain my own parental perspective, but I’ll spare you.)
I’ll just give the simple reminder..
Babies love cuddling, do it!
Babies need cuddling, take the time!
Seriously, how often do you hear people with grown up, adult kids say, “Cherish it when they’re young man, they grow up so fast.”? Yes, babies grow up. And that feeling of not needing or wanting kisses comes way sooner than I think most people expect.
Like age 4-5, when you think, yeah technically they’re still my lil baby.. nope! Jr. Kindergarten will come around, when hugs and kisses in public, before school, is NOT cool. When they’ll run away so fast ready to interact with all the other people in their life.
And you’ll miss it.
You’ll miss that parenting privilege.
You’ll miss when they were tiny. When they needed you. When they yearned for your every smile and tender touch. As I mentioned in this article last year our jobs are not to make them tough. Sure, you can choose to parent that way. And I'm not here to judge you I promise. Who has time or patience to cuddle every cry anyway?
People want stronger kids, not softer kids.
But the way I see ——as our babies come of age they could use more unconditional I’m-here-for-youness. More, I'll sit here as you cry your eyes out just to comfort you vibes.
The world can be a dark, disastrous place and it will surely kick your kid down. There will be tough moments. Life will smack them in the face and put them on their ass. As parents we just can’t prevent that.
But we can prevent them from a lot of future heartache if we take it easy on the “they gotta learn,” “tough love is true love” lifestyle. I get letting a baby cry it out when they really need to sleep. But so what if "they're just crying for attention."
I hope our brave lil 6 month olds aren't feeling their parents indifference. Can you imagine understanding enough to know you're being ignored.. with the door shut, in a dark room. Imagine really being in pain or discomfort, just really wanting to feel someone else's presence, just wanting a hug..
But the vibes from mom and dad feel like, "Life sucks hey? We're out here just doing our thing, while you sit in there struggling, stuck in your crib. Handle your sh*t, kid."
They are our babies.
We are their moms and dads.
Isn’t our role to comfort?
The world has plenty of tough love to teach em!
I feel our job is to
teach em love..
teach em patience
teach em they matter
teach em their feelings count
teach em how to transmute their negativity into positivity
teach em how they could cope
let em learn which coping method works for them
let em learn they won’t always have your hugs
let em learn what coping alone might feel like
let em learn how to slowly detach from the comfort of your arms…
just try not to force it. Not so young.
They need our love.
I mean, I know you love your kid! I don’t mean cuddling a crying baby means you love them more, or letting them cry means you love them less. I simply want to remind you what babies yearn for and need. And that life is short. Live in the present. I dare you to practice painful patience. Sit with them a little longer, cuddle them even in their fake cries.
As parents we get the endless, wild rainforest of cute cuddles, kisses, and hugs from the most adorable, lovable, and silly lil creatures, embodiments of pure love which WE made ourselves. Take every cuddle while you can!
You won't regret it.
With love, a mom who cures w/ cuddles :)
Heatherlee is a fearless mom, designer, artist and community maker in St. Paul, MN. She's a doula-in-training, apprentice energy worker and life long learner interested in wellness, social entrepreneurship and the intersection of culture, consciousness and creativity. More about Heatherlee's entry into women's health and birth work, and her career milestones so far.