Well, readers, I initially described this blog as “the good, the bad and the ugly” of parenting and here comes some ugly (bad?). LM requires an inordinate amount of attention. She has since they day she was born. I am aware, as a professional who works with children ages 0-3, and as a friend to many moms, that all young children require a lot of attention but LM requires a particular kind of attention that can make being her mom very hard. I feel very guilty about how difficult it is for me to be with her at times. “Talking breaks”, “question breaks”, and “mommy/daddy breaks” have become a common part of our vernacular and the difficulty lies in my natural inclination to encourage her social/emotional development, innate curiosity and bonding with us as caregivers.
To highlight my point, and what has become my particular challenge, let me share our very typical morning. Hubby actively engaged LM, with either play or conversation, for 3 hours. We then both played with her for 45 minutes and then I actively engaged her for an hour and a half after that. At one point LM wandered into her playspace and I into the kitchen to do some cleanup. She calls in to me “Mom, what are you going to play with me?” I said, “Right now, Mommy is going to clean up and you are going to play by yourself.” LM screams, falls to the floor and yells/cries “Nobody every plays with me. I always feel very lonely.” This is an obvious plea for attention, please don’t think I don’t see that, but it’s also an honest proclamation. If LM is not actively engaged with another person (peer or adult) in conversation or play that is appealing to her she does, in all honesty, feel alone.
I watch her struggle to integrate herself into play with peers and something doesn’t quite click. When other children happily run around after one another with no apparent goal she just doesn’t get the point. She is ready to write, act in and direct full length plays and feels frustrated at the lack of ability to do so.
These struggles both pain me and frustrate me to no end. Her constant need for attention, structured plans and guidance through activities are an enormous challenge for me. Her need for constant social engagement is so hard for me and harder for her. My wish is that I will be able to help guide us all to a happy medium and as LM gets older there will be more activities tailored to her specific interests so that she has an outlet.
I feel the need to wrap this up with a positive note but I will refrain in the name of honest sharing.