I’m not ashamed to say that I am an overprotective Mum. In fact, no, you probably think I am an overprotective Mum. I think I’m just a Mum, and that being overprotective is listed under Essential in the job description.
I mean, isn’t that the whole point of being a Mum? To protect your offspring? So in that case, I’m just doing my job. She hasn’t been eaten by wolves yet, so I think I am doing ok by cavewoman standards.
But, this is not the cavewoman era. I’m not simply protecting Ebony from hunger, the elements and the occasional predator. It’s 2012 and everywhere I look is danger. Ok, at this point I probably sound slightly mental. And maybe you don’t see danger at every turn, I definitely didn’t see it until Ebony was born. I think having a baby has rewired my brain, now I see the world in a completely new way.
In recent weeks, strangers have started coming over to ‘have a look’ at the baby. They attempt to reach into the sling to see her face (which is usually covered in hardened snot, more fool them), sometimes they hold her hand as they coo over her (usually while politely not mentioning the fact that her entire nose is covered in bright green snot). Who the hell are these potentially germy space invaders? Why on earth would you go over to a stranger’s baby and start touching them? I don’t like to be touched by strangers, and to some extent it still feels as though Ebony is a part of me, so I find this most repulsive. Hideous strangers. It’s no wonder Ebony caught a bloody cold. Get your germy hands off her.
Ebony recently went through a two week phase of stranger danger (this is not a medical term), and would cry every time she was held by anyone but me and her Dad. It was quite upsetting to see her cry, as each time she looked very terrified. I am a great believer in Ebony’s cries. I know she cries only when she needs to, because she is unhappy, and not because she is a manipulative arsehole. While suffering stranger danger, she would cry because she wanted to get back to safety (ie, the arms of me or her father). So, when my Dad wanted a cuddle of her, I made him promise that he would give her straight back if she cried, which he did. And it made things much easier, because she stopped crying straight away instead of getting frustrated and ending up more upset. But it’s ok to say that to my Dad, because he is my Dad. Even if he doesn’t always agree with my opinions, he respects them and he would never do anything to upset me.
I don’t mind sounding like an overprotective mother to my parents. Because, most of the things that might make me seem overprotective can actually be justified. But my parents are my parents, and I’m sure they once overprotective with me.
It’s other people who I find it difficult to say such things to. I think you have to know someone pretty well to let them in on your neurosis. I know that some of my fears may not be rational, but there is a voice in my head who often points out: “If you don’t say something and it happens, you’ll never forgive yourself. It will be your fault.” So there are times, when Ebony is with someone else and I am too concerned about being judged as an overprotective mother to explain my fears. And so instead, I stand as close as I can in order to catch her if she is dropped, or remove objects she may get bashed into, or simply just so that she knows I am close by. And, on these occasions, I feel sick and panicked. It really is a terrible thing to have to keep your fear inside. I’m not sure how well I even manage it because I have always had a very expressive face.
The worse thing is when Ebony starts to cry in their arms. I know Ebony’s cues, I can tell if she is hungry, tired or needs changing just by watching her body language and facial expressions. Other people can’t. All babies are different, so you really only ever know your own baby. Sometimes while she is being held by someone else, Ebony will start to fuss. She is crying really, but it doesn’t look like crying. She is just fussing, but this is her way of saying she needs something. In an ideal world, she would be handed back to me at this point, so I can work out what she needs and provide it quickly, so she doesn’t need to start crying. But this isn’t what happens. Most of the time, the holder will try to calm her themselves (usually by simply saying shush), and Ebony will soon end up crying.
I hate that people might think me an overbearing mother for wanting to avoid my baby’s tears. I hate that they might think I’m over the top, and discuss it behind my back. It makes me sad that being an attentive mother is seen as a bad thing. At this stage, I am still Ebony’s food source, so of course I want to have her back as soon as she starts to fuss, because if she is hungry it is much easier to breastfeed a fussy baby than a baby who has started to cry. I don’t like that while worrying about my baby, I am also worrying about what people think of my mothering.
I don’t like to be told that Ebony is just crying to manipulate, or to control me. She is a baby, and she is crying because she needs something. And if you don’t agree, that’s fine. You are very welcome to your opinion, but please don’t use my child as a guinea pig. If she cries, give her back so I can help her. Don’t keep of hold of her to “show her she can’t always get what she wants”, I don’t ever want her to feel that her communication is ignored. I spent 9 gruelling months growing her, and 7 hours pushing her out, I’m not going to let someone damage her now. So please, be careful with my Ebony. She is only fragile, and she means the world to me.
Please can you pass her back now?