The Ballad of Clingy Smalls (and other songs)

I almost didn't write this post because last week, like magic, Revi let go. Maybe it was a change of scenery or maybe it was just a change but suddenly she didn't want to cling to me anymore.

So I put her down and she went running through the yard and didn't cry when she realized I was on the other side of the patio, walking away. But before last week, and for the past couple of months, it was a very different story.
It happened about a year ago as well, the ballad of clingy smalls. I was relieved then because I spent the first six months of Bo and Revi's life with Bo attached to my chest and Revi... not. I struggled hard with  twin "I want them to feel equally cared for" guilt that I now know is completely normal and totally ridiculous because all children are demanding in different ways and it all evens out in the end.

But in the moment, I was struggling.

And when Revi and Bo switched places I thought, "See? I fucked up. I didn't give enough love to Revi when she was born and now she's suffering from love deprivation clinginess," which is a disorder I made up in my crazy-assed head. 

Revi's first bout with clinginess went away after a couple of months and I assumed that was it. She had found her footing in the security department and was back to being everyone's little buddy.

Not so. In fact, Revi's stranger anxiety + clinginess was even worse the second time around. She would scream if a stranger so much as looked at her and for several weeks I had to sponge bathe her because the bathtub was the scariest place that existed and she would have full on panic attacks every time I put her in.
She screamed at the sight of everyone, even friends, family, my dad...  If Hal tried to take her from me she would become hysterical and let me tell you what, a hysterical baby screaming MAMA at the top of her lungs is not as flattering as it sounds. It's actually kind of horrifying because there are times when you have to poop. There are times you have to poop with a child in your arms. Which should not be part of the deal I don't think.

"It's totally normal," my pediatrician told me.

"It's totally normal," the Internet explained.

But it wasn't normal in my house so I worried. My other kids weren't like this. Am I doing something wrong? Is this because I wasn't there for her in the beginning? Am I a horrible person to be SO FRUSTRATED WITH HER RIGHT NOW?

Recently we were out doing errands and I was wearing Revi (because I kind of had to) and someone asked if I was an "Attachment Parent." 

"A what?"

"Are you into Attachment Parenting?"

"I mean... I'm just holding my kid."

I'm just holding my kid. 

It was ironic because someone ELSE had made a comment about my "free range parenting" days previous because Bo was running around and Archer and Fable were off leash and everyone was just existing. LIVING.

And it helped me realize that everything is kind of preposterous. How temporary all of it is. How we're all trying to find answers and clubs and groups to help us figure out how to define everything but we're really just trying to define a moment. Because you can't "babywear" a ten year old, you know? You can't breastfeed a teenager. You can't call yourself a Freerange Grandparent. We're all just working through the moments. Doing what's best for our kids. Revi wants to be held all the time. Meanwhile, I let Bo go running down the beach with her siblings. Freerange attachment parent class of 2013, that's me. (And everyone else.)

Most of the time we're taking this parenting thing way too seriously. Myself included. I mean, sure, we need to be awesome. But putting labels on philosophies and styles and children who are a little clingier than normal, feeling guilty for things we have no control over, is just....well....kind of a waste of energy.

And I realized that instead of trying to "get to the bottom of why she is the way she is"... instead of trying to understand the psychology of a twenty-month old via google and babycenter... instead of trying to "fix" or "change" her, to rush her out of her phase/issue/problem, I needed to chill out and give her what she so desperately needed. To be held. 


SO simple. Too simple? 

No, self. No. 

One of the reasons I don't write about parenting as much as I used to is because after eight years and 3,000+ posts, I kind of feel like I've exhausted every issue. And in exhausting every issue I've come to recognize that none of it really matters. I mean, sure, it matters in the moment. It matters a great deal in the moment but then the moment ends. The questions answer themselves. Our children grow up and out of diapers and tantrums and teething.
And pretty soon we've forgotten we ever worried. Or googled. Or wrote blog posts.

Because there are new things to worry about, right? Parenthood is a revolving door of worries and moments of frustration and I HAVEN'T SLEPT IN WEEKS HELP! Google, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING!? HOW DO I SOLVE THIS EPIC PROBLEM!??? And then the day comes when they do sleep and you're so relieved! You're the most relieved person of all time! And then something strange happens and you start to feel... sad?

I did.

I feel relieved and then sad all the time. Because if they're sleeping through the night that means they're no longer babies.

Which is exactly how I felt when I turned toward Revi last week and saw her little back disappear behind my mom's tomato plants. She was no longer desperate for me.

A year and a half ago I wrote this about Bo, my free spirit wild child, who now screams when I try to pick her up and says "DOWN PEES! DOWN, MAMA PEES!" before scampering off into someone's family picnic:

LOL, right? El Oh Fucking El. 

I had no idea. 

I still don't. 

And that's the beauty and the beast of parenthood and livelihood and writingaboutitallhood. 

I don't have a clue. You probably don't either. And that's what keeps us all moving forward, google be damned. 
I know I've been very into writing about nostalgic things as of late that have little to do with parenting per se but for me, they totally do. All of my crazy posts about yesteryear help me remind myself of all the phases I went through as a young person which in turn help me understand that my kids are going through them, too. That everyone does. 

That this is a phase and that is a phase and let's discuss this phase, Phasey McPhase. 

It just so happens that at the moment Revi doesn't need me to hold her every second on my lap. But last week she did and next week maybe she will again and this is the dance we do as parents of complicated human beings with complicated human being minds. 

I remind myself of Time and what it tells me every day as the kids outgrow shoes and change their minds about whether they like camp and Katy Perry songs. 

"Tick tock, this is a phase, tick tock..."

In the meantime, I get to be here, in this life, for my kids when they need me to hold them. Even if it seems entirely without reason and makes me want to scream sometimes because I can't breathe and my legs have fallen asleep...
I get to be here.