I’ve always been a very independent person. Wearing leopard print leggings in 6th grade when other kids were wearing jeans? Did it. Unfortunately also while rocking braces, glasses and a boy’s haircut. Wish I had pictures. (Ummm, NOT.) Packing my bags and heading off to Italy to study architecture, even without knowing a word of Italian or any of my classmates? Yep. Done. Agreeing to marry Benjamin as a senior in college, while most of my friends were trading boyfriends like baseball cards? You better believe it. Moving to Boston when almost all of my friends and family were several states away? One of the best decisions I ever made.
While I often talk through my decisions with those close to me, I usually have my mind made up no matter what they think. I’ve always been comfortable taking care of myself. I can read maps. I can change a tire. I can cook a decent dinner out of almost anyone’s pantry. I can feel a baby’s fever with the touch of my cheek, soothe away his tears and call the doctor all at the same time.
When Benjamin travels or has to work on weekends or even on my Mondays with just Owen, I am so thankful that I enjoy being independent. That I am not only capable of doing it all myself, but that I love doing it all myself. (Ahem, sometimes).
For the last few weeks especially, it’s been mostly just Owen and me. Me and Owen. Doing everything together. And while this bonding time has been incredibly special to me (and hard, at times, of course), it has brought up an issue I hadn’t really thought about before.
Can you spend too much time with your kid?
I don’t mean that in the “now that I’m a mother I don’t even know who I am anymore” kind of way. No, I have friends and relationships and a job independent of Owen and I do my best to keep them humming along. What I mean is that I have made such a concerted effort to put away my phone, shut my laptop and turn off the TV and my Blackberry when I am with Owen that I think I have given him a false sense of what the world is like. That I am always there for him. That I can always carve out time for him. That he is the most important thing in the world to me. That going to the playground and pretending to mow the lawn and reading every book in his bookshelf are literally the only things on my agenda for the day. By spending all of my time focused entirely on him, am I making him codependent on me?
Sure, sure, when I am making dinner and he’s grabbing at my knees tearfully whimpering, “Hold you, Mommy! Hold you!”, I explain that I can’t hold him right now because my hands are busy cooking. I try to show him that when I am having a conversation with someone else, I can’t always listen to him and he needs to learn how to wait. But he has no idea about all of the things that I put off until naptime or after he goes to bed so that I can focus all of my attention on him while he is awake.
I guess when it comes down to it, if my biggest parenting mistake is spending too much time with my son, and listening too closely to the sentences his little brain is desperately learning to put together, then I think I can sleep well at night. But I do wonder if my constant attention will backfire at some point. In my defense, I do think daycare gives him the opportunity to realize that others need attention too, and I personally think there is plenty of time in his life for him to figure out that he isn’t the center of the universe.
Do you ever feel like you give your child too much attention? Is there such a thing? Do you think there is a dark side to making your child the center of your world?