January 13, 2017

Who is the adult in the relationship?

When simple tasks like brushing my teeth or styling my hair became a battle of wills where I always lost to my guilty feelings that I was being a bad mother if I didn't respond to my toddler's often tearless crying, my (adult) husband weighed in on our codependent relationship and set my priorities straight.

As my little one continues to show more independence for instance when she is able to tilt and drink from her own cup or yank my breasts from their pockets to take what's hers lol, I find myself struggling with breaking the codependent habits we both formed during her totally dependent stages.

Then, I had to go everywhere with her including to relieve myself because she clung to me to the extent that I had to lift her onto my knees and use the toilet at the same time.

Till now, we haven't succeeded in getting her to sleep in her crib and so co- sleep but even that is not enough for my gugu. She still has to sleep skin to skin and no matter how many times I place her back on the sheets, she snuggles and wriggles until she finds my body heat. Now that she is stronger, she can jerk her body backwards when I try to adjust her, wringing herself from my hands before assertively climbing onto the body part she wants to spread herself over- my head!

My day used to revolve around her and simple things like taking a bath or washing dishes had to be scheduled around when she fell asleep or when her daddy came home from work. Until we discovered that she could be tricked into being happy in her own company if we put on baby rhymes for her to watch. But even that had its time limit.

l was becoming so limited that my sleep was suffering, my masters programme was suffering and I was not regaining the life I had before. All it took was a forlorn look and loud, long crying and my own independence was thrown out the door.

I was complaining during one of our conversations when my husband leveled a question at me. "Who is the adult in the relationship?", he asked, returning the invitation to my pity party.

His own idea of parenting was that I should ask myself who was served by my carrying her everywhere with me. Wasn't it me and my story that until I sacrificed myself, I wasn't loving my child?

His logic was sound.

It was to her benefit that she exercised the independence she was gaining from walking and taking herself places she wanted to go. I could even be subverting her confidence to venture out when I pulled her back because I couldn't be chasing her around to prevent her from going somewhere or disrupting my things lol.

It was to her benefit that she exercised the independence of having teeth and my on and off approach to weaning her off sucking milk because it was the main way I bribed her to sleep, stop crying or eat, was more about me.

It was also to her benefit that she exercised the independence she was displaying as she expressed herself by repeating new words like "bye" and "go" and responding with recognition to used ones by saying "Ka" when she heard the word "Quack" or "Rowwwww" when she heard the line "Row, row, row your boat" or "mmm mmm" for the silent letter "B" and "I" in the rhyme that spelt B.I.N.G.O before retracting one letter each per round. So her tearless crying or fearless tantrum throwing when I repeated "NO" while taking away things she shouldn't play with, didn't warrant any guilty feelings.

And I didn't have to tie myself to her cradle strings. I could wash the dishes while she waited then get to her while my bath waited its turn too.

All in moderation.

One at a time.

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