The attachment dance

He's there right now. Day care.

I'm sitting on the couch with a laptop and kleenex and trying to refrain from getting in the car and driving over there and bringing him home.

We spent a little time last week at the day care. The teachers are sweet and nice. The kids seem happy. Little Man was a bit reserved when we went in. He clung to my neck for a few minutes, then ventured off but came back for hugs. And after a few minutes of that, he was off and playing, but visually checking in.

I have been feeling more secure in our attachment in the past month, and his behavior seemed to be a confirmation of that. That made me feel a lot more comfortable having someone else care for him three days a week. We can do this, I thought.

Today, The Man dropped him off because Mommy is a wimp that will be our daily routine. The Man called afterwards and gave me the full rundown. He went in, LM ran straight over to one of the teachers. Crawled into her lap. And then waved goodbye to The Man. And that was it.

And that's why I'm feeling all angsty and freaked out---Little Man is usually restrained with his hugs and lap time. So much so, that if he crawls into my lap and interacts with me for a few minutes, I get that little jolt of joy that I got when the cool kids let me sit at their lunch table in middle school.

So, knowing he tucked himself into the teacher's lap within the first minutes of walking in the door...that sets off all the attachment alarms in my head. Is he nervous and trying to get comfort from someone else? Why doesn't he sit like that with me?

This is the attachment dance. At least, it is in our house. One minute I'm sailing across the floor with my dance partner (LM), and not missing a beat. We smile at one another. Play together easily. He runs into the room where I am, greeting me with a big smile and hug. He likes to interact with me. We are connected!

And other times, he pushes me away when I hold him. He runs to strangers and tries to climb on their laps. He refuses to make eye contact of any sort. I try to interact with him and he shows no interest.

These are behaviors that all toddlers display from time to time, but when LM does them, I start to panic. I panic, because of all the attachment horror stories we've heard.

I panic, because I'm totally insecure in our relationship. (Are all mothers insecure about their relationship with their children??)

So, day care is just another step in our attachment dance. He snuggles with the teacher and I fear that he'll think she's the mommy now.

We are coming up to five months of being at home. Progress has been slow but steady. We are definitely closer, but I don't feel like the bond is so strong that I don't have to worry about it. I am concerned about how spending time away from us will affect our relationship. He's had so much change and loss in his short year of life. He's had many people come and go in his life. What if he thinks that we are leaving him too?

I know this week will be a tough one, probably more for me than for him. One day at a time, right?
Going to try and keep busy today. Which shouldn't be a problem. Tackling all the things I haven't had time to get done, like trimming the hedges (hard to do with a baby running around) or cleaning the garage.

If I can ever get off this couch.



  1. Oh goodness - I don't know what to say. I haven't been there, but know I'm heading there. It's certainly a dance...but just remember your the one leading :)


  2. I totally get the bonding concerns but too I will give you the ex-childcare teacher perspective. I think LM was fine letting your hubby go because your hubby was probably more relaxed and that relax gave LM the impression that he was being dropped off at a safe place. Since LM has that stronger link to you he is even more fine-tuned to your emotions and perhaps worries in his own way for you. If he sees fear or any type of angst in your behavior or expression he will think you are doing so because you are not comfortable with the situation you are putting him into. So along with that, believe it or not, stalling your leaving from the daycare is worse. Again that hesitation thing. Your best bet is to confidently and lovingly tell LM that you love him, will come back for him later (Could even be specific and say you'll be back when he gets up from nap or after playground time etc.), and that you can't wait to hear about his fun day when you come back. Be as convincing as possible in his presence and THEN go back to your car and cry yourself out. Even the kids that cry often stop very shortly after parents leave.
    The fact that he is willing to go with someone else means you ARE doing your job making him feel loved and accepted and able to enjoy others.
    But too just remember that all kids (and grown-ups too) have their bad and clingy days.
    I personally think LM pushing you away at times and the next time snuggling you up is his own little game to test you. He is testing to see if you'll love him "no matter what" and "no matter when".
    So sure, I get your fears, your possible jealousy issues, etc. but I really think it sounds like you're doing great.

  3. Oh, it IS a dance, great metaphor. I think you are smart to let your husband drop him off (we did that too, I was too emotional in the beginning). I firmly believe it is OK for our little ones to form other attachments, so long as it is a manageable number of people - I mean, "family" used to include a whole lot more extended relatives than just mom or dad. Keep an eye on the other stuff, the sleeping, clinginess, etc...you know the signs for him having a hard time, you can always change up the daycare plan if needed. I agree with the last commenter that some of this is a matter of time and experience; they learn that they'll be OK and the drop offs get easier. Will be thinking of all of you the next few weeks. Transitions are so tough!

  4. Anonymous--I would kiss you if I knew who you were! Sarah, LOVE the new way of thinking about this. He's building attachments!! This is great, even if it makes me a little sad that I can't be the center of his universe at all times :)

  5. Found your blog on a friend's blogroll and LOVE THIS POST. I've been home 2 months with my Chinese cutie pie and man...I feel the same way. It's such a dance, so much testing on her part and whatnot. I feel so the same way, DD sometimes loves me, sometimes hates me...and I know it's still a new relationship and we've come so far since leaving China but it's still not very easy on mommy!

  6. *Hugs* sweetie, it's such a dance. You're doing great though and (even with 3 days in daycare) your bond is growing stronger every day!

  7. Hey PIX. No kisses necessary but just an F.Y.I you do know me even though I always sign in as 'anonymous'. (Hint: My husband ran into you at Tough Mudder.)


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