Sometimes I have moments that, as a mother, overwhelm me with a very broad spectrum of emotions all at once, and I have to take a step back and let myself live in that moment and feel whatever it is I need to feel. I'm sure a lot of mothers -- and fathers, and grandparents, etc. -- can relate.
My son, the Juban Princeling, is now 9 1/2 months old, but I've known since the day he was born that he's not a touchy-feely kind of guy. On his first day of life when I went to hold him on my shoulder to burp him after a feeding he tried to crawl off me. He was just hours old, but already he was showing his personality, and that personality very clearly said, "Do not touch me unless absolutely necessary." In the days, weeks, and then months that followed he would take this little mission statement quite literally. He would try to buck himself out of my grip when I held his ankles during diaper changes. He would wriggle in my arms when I had to carry him. He would push me away when I snuggled him in bed. He would scream in protest if I "kiss attacked" him (as Husband calls it) or made to hug him. He rejected infant massage and baby yoga. He just...isn't a touchy-feely kind of guy.
I am touchy-feely and so is my husband. For us to have a baby who is so anti-physical affection was, at first, hurtful. Our own child wouldn't let us snuggle him.
After a while we sort of came to terms with this. After all, the #1 rule of parenting is love the child you have, not the child you wish you had. We learned to accept the Princeling's own style of showing his love and affection. The special smile he shows only to us two. The way we always know how to make him laugh no matter what. The way he lights up when we walk into the room he's in or when he hears our voices on the phone. The way he looks for us, whatever else he's doing.
There's a word in Spanish that Husband taught me when the Princeling was just a few months old: ñoño. It's a feeling you get when you just want your mommy. You're not necessarily tired or bored or upset or angry or sad or hungry or poopy. You just want your mommy. You're ñoño.
The Princeling is a little tough guy, but sometimes even he gets ñoño. Not often, but it happens. Beyond the separation anxiety typical to this age, once in a blue moon he'll just want his mommy.
Some of my mom friends complain that their babies will only fall asleep in their arms. I've never had that problem with the Princeling. He has never really needed any elaborate "going to sleep" rituals. When he's tired, he's tired, and as soon as he's in his crib, zipped up in his Sleep Sack, with his pacifier in his mouth and a blankie in his arms, he's "out like trout," as my cousin Rudy says. He doesn't need a lot of lullabies or rocking or whatever. And although some of my mom friends have done it, we never really had to make the decision whether or not to do "cry it out" (or CIO) with him, because once he's settled, he's out like trout.
But then there's the blue moon when the Princeling gets ñoño. When he's like that, he won't go to sleep easily. He'll need me to hold him, but not just to hold him. I hold him close to me, with his little body against my chest and his head resting on my shoulder, his little fingers curled around the sleeves of my shirt as if he's holding on for dear life. I sit in the glider and rock back and forth, back and forth. I sing to him, but not the usual lullabies. I sing songs that I like, songs that I want him to forever associate with love and comfort and his mommy. "Yellow Submarine" is my favorite. It sometimes segues into "With A Little Help From My Friends" for a Beatles mini-medley. I'll sing "Lucky Star" by Madonna, "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel, or "Under the Bridge" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. The last may not be the most appropriate material for a child, but my baby doesn't know what I'm singing, and the melody is quite comforting. And sometimes I sing "I've Got You, Babe" because I do have him, and he's definitely got me.
His breathing will become slower, and even. He might sigh or let out a sleepy little moan. His head will get heavier on my shoulder. I can smell his baby musk on the back of his neck.
Sometimes I keep singing long past the point when I know he's asleep. Sometimes I keep rocking him long after he needs me to do so. Every time I just want to stay that way for hours, days, his entire life, and I cry because I know that's not possible. Because my mom friends whose babies will only fall asleep in their arms have the opposite problem that I have. I just want my baby to want to be held in my arms. I want my baby to want my physical comfort, me, his mommy. My baby who crawled off my shoulder during burpings and who pushes himself out of my arms when I carry him out of his crib. These blue moon ñoño moments are all I have right now for holding my baby tight and never letting him go.
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