A prominent psychologist has said that until around nine months whatever the child asks for or wants he or she is right.
It is something like slavery for the caregiver, or feels like it. This is due to the immaturity of the infant, the inability to care for itself. Withholding touch, food or basic human comfort from a child at this stage can be catastrophic. They demand waiting on hand and foot, and in fact they need it.
This is an intense and temporary situation. When communication begins to emerge in the form of babbling and interacting a shift occurs. There is a visible give and take. There are things the child must learn to do for itself.
You may find yourself saddened at the loss of this ‘helpless’ stage and at the same time overly eager to see growth. It’s odd, but normal. Healthy motherhood embraces growth and learns to adjust care to the ever increasing capability of the child.
Where it may be inappropriate to expect a three month old to ‘cry it out’ till the next feeding, you may begin to notice as the child grows, that sometimes the crying is simply fussiness. This is subjective, and each of us must make decisions that work for our circumstances. If you find yourself feeling resentment at having to care for your child it’s a good idea to talk this over with your spouse, or a friend or counselor. Mom guilt is really too, and talking with other young mothers is a life-saver. These are normal responses, as child-rearing is a tremendous burden. But there’s no question that it is a burden worth bearing.
We’re learning as we go, aren’t we? No one gets a trial run on the first baby. Each child is unique, each mother as well. To make matters more complex the dynamic changes with the addition of every new sibling. We will be flexing once again with child no 2 or 3. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m assuming for the purpose of this post that this is your first baby.
So now there are physical milestones such as sitting up, crawling, walking, holding a spoon, etc. and the child needs us less for mobility. We are far from out of a job, but our duties change. The goal with each of these is actually to work ourselves out of the job! The parent watching the child learn to do things for his or her self has a front row seat to a true blockbuster movie unfolding in real time.
Keep your perspective. This time in the development of a child is so small in comparison with the rest of your life even though it seems to be lasting forever. Make a decision to be fully present. You won’t regret it. An attitude of gratefulness, though not always your first response, is essential. The cultivation of your spirit is happening as you respond in courage to the challenge of raising this child. The extent to which you can be self-absorbed is being challenged as well. You will look back and see that while you were raising the child, something wonderful was happening to you as a person.