Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Once again, Anaiya has hit a new phase of development. I notice there’s an adjustment period to these shifts as more independence is emerging in her. And it’s timed with me returning to seeing clients more full-time. As I’m spending more time away from her, I notice I’m tasting what feels like freedom that I haven’t had in these past 18 months. And it feels good! Not only is she moving into more independence, but so is her mama. An aspect of me has been so hungry for this and it feels like it has come in perfect timing.
The adjustment to this transition has me discovering what the right amount of independence feels good for both of us, both in our time away from each other but also while we’re together.
She’s incredibly comfortable when I leave her with her truly amazing caregivers. She lights up when she sees them. She has developed her own secure bond with them and knows that mama always comes back. She is understanding this flow of being apart and coming back together and I feel incredibly grateful in how seamless these transitional moments are of putting her in the arms of her other people, beyond mama, that so lovingly care for her. And when we reunite she’s happy to see me, and eager to have “boobie” but she’s not desperately clinging to me. A healthy accordion stretch of the umbilical cord.
In my view, this is what secure attachment looks and feels like. A healthy response to leaving and returning. She knows she is safe, and she is secure in the knowing that I will always return. Her sense of well being and safety are deeply established in her system. It’s been an incremental process of increasing the time away from each other in a pacing that has felt aligned to the well-being of her system and mine. This time apart nourishes us both and it’s wonderful for her to be with other people who she trusts and feels secure with and who love her tremendously.
"It’s been an incremental process of increasing the time away from each other in a pacing that has felt aligned to the well-being of her system and mine."
As this independence increases, I also notice a shift in how we relate when we are together. She’s eager to try things out on her own, but also gets frustrated not being able to do things by herself. So I'm seeking the right amount of being with her in her experiences so that she feels supported in her explorations and tasks. To me, this feels like an important stage of attuning to what she needs now (every stage is, actually). In my enjoyment of some more independence, I notice I could just let her do things all on her own. And sometimes I want to. A part of me wishes I could just focus on my own interests while I’m with her. But we’re not at that stage of independence, yet. What she needs is the right amount of presence and to engage in her curiosities, and at the same time, not to do things for her.
"What she needs is the right amount of presence and to engage in her curiosities, and at the same time, not to do things for her."
I’m adjusting to this phase. I notice moments when I want to check out and not pay attention to her. This doesn’t serve where she’s at in her development. She needs and wants to engage with me in her explorations. She wants the shared experience, to feel the container is still holding her, and to increasingly grow her confidence in what she can do on her own.
An example of this is going potty. She knows when she needs to go and could just walk to her potty. But, she usually wants me to come with her. And she needs assistance in pulling her pants off so she can then seat herself on her potty that’s on the ground. When she’s done she helps me pour the pee and poop into the toilet, we close the lid together and she flushes, with a gentle push from my finger too. We’re co-creating an enjoyable bathroom experience where she receives the right amount of assistance that she needs at this stage of her development. And other times when she’s already naked she tells me she needs the potty and I can encourage her to walk over there by herself, which she does. But she doesn’t just walk to the potty without communicating with me. She wants to engage with me still in her process. And this is important for me to recognize and acknowledge. Pushing her past this phase before she’s developmentally ready would create on overly self-reliant child who couldn’t depend on needed support. And the other side of that is if I keep just doing things for her, and not letting her try it on her own, or with some help, then she’d be overly dependent and not building confidence that she can do things independently. It’s finding the attuned balance with her.
"Pushing her past this phase before she’s developmentally ready would create on overly self-reliant child who couldn’t depend on needed support."
On my end, as a parent, it’s the continual awareness of phase shifts and adjusting to what she needs now. She’s continually growing and changing and sometimes I’m out of sync with where she’s at now. This is simply an opportunity for me to tune in, and come into more presence with her. When I do this, I can usually find my stride with her again. And we both settle into where she’s at developmentally. She’s also finding her new homeostasis with her own growth.
Lately though, my hunger for freedom gnaws at me when we’re at home. It wants her to just play on her own. But I recognize that would be pushing past this phase of development where she needs the right amount of interest still coming from me. I haven’t quite adjusted to this new phase and I feel my internal push and pull. My own curiosity persists of just how much does she need my attention so that she still enjoys her expanding independence and the power of my presence. The Goldilocks of engagement with her. The just-rightness.
Our physical time away and coming back together is much more obvious. When we reunite I’m delighted to see her and engage with her. I’m seeking that same rhythm when we’re physically together. And trust, just like every new phase preceding this one, that our following of the arising, and listening and attuning will continue to reveal exactly what’s needed. As this new calibration to more freedom and independence for us both finds its way into our connection, I get to realign to what I’m serving. Which is supporting her flourishing, as well as mine, as an interdependent family.