I like to tell new parents, new mothers especially, about attachment theory. How mummy is the centre of her baby’s world. How mummy is the star at the centre of the universe as far as her children are concerned. This is why babies howl when we leave the room, why as soon as we pick up our infants and cuddle them all is right with their world again. Why our toddlers follow us everywhere, even to the loo. I firmly believe that children need responsive parents and that nurturing and prioritising our children’s attachment needs is the right thing to do.
My children are no longer babies, however. I like to think I’m still quite important to them, but to prevent me getting grandiose they like to tell me what they really think. Beanie, for example, informed me that she prefers Awesome Auntie to me. I did my best not to look too miffed, and replied that I love Awesome Auntie very much too. I recounted this exchange to my sister, who insightfully remarked that Beanie’s preference comes from the fact that “she’s never seen me grumpy and I say yes to everything”. So I did feel slightly mollified.
Next up comes Monkey’s opinion. We had been patronising a local shoe shop in search of new wellies and they had a promotion where you could nominate a “super mum”. Monkey was taken with the posters: they involved superhero cape costumes and he is five, after all. Fishing for compliments, I asked him if he’d nominate me as super mum. He said no, but he would nominate Beloved Husband for super daddy. Serves me right for fishing, I suppose! Then just to make me feel good about myself he told me he likes me because “you’re fatter and cuddlier than Daddy”. Ho hum.
Parents are important. Mothering is a Serious business. But my children are reminding me not to take myself too Seriously. Which sometimes a tough lesson.