How to Apologize to a Baby

We’ve all had those moments. You know, when you are a total jerk to your kid. A couple of days ago, I was very determined to get  a lot of things done. Luca has been teething. Two components that don’t jive: Impatient Mama & Upset Baby. The thing that kills me is, I knew he was teething. I knew that he would be in pain and needing his Mama for comfort more than usual. But you know, I can’t let my kid get in the way of me being Supermom. So I decided to try to get all of the things done I wanted… bad idea.

It started with me trying to get all of Luca’s laundry put away from our vacation. He got a lot of new clothes that needed to be washed and I figured that maybe I should sort through the old clothes that are too small. Then, I thought it would be really great to make a Father’s Day for my dad. Which of course, required a YouTube tutorial and arguing with my Cricut. Then, I thought it would be super awesome to put a video of Luca “crawling” on YouTube so that my whole family could see it. Now, to do this I needed to create a “YouTube Channel” which of course took WAY longer than anticipated. Somewhere in the middle of me uploading my profile photo for my new “channel,” Luca began to whine. I tried to pick him up and continue working on my profile. He continued to whine. I tried setting him down to play. He whined louder. I tried to pick him up and bounce him on my knee. UGH this STUPID YouTube Channel won’t let me upload my photo!! Luca whines again. This time, I look right at him and demand, “WHAT?!” He stops. He studies my face. I hold my breath. He bursts into tears. I return my “Mom of the Year” trophy. No, of course I pull him close to me and stand-up. Repeatedly apologizing and swaying. He stopped crying and rubbed his eyes. Poor guy was tired! If I had been paying attention I would have noticed what time it was and seen his cues… he’d be down for a nap and I would have gotten more done anyway. Ah, the irony. 

So, I go lay Luca down. As I laid next to him, I rubbed his back gently and he continued to whimper. I realized in that moment that we had just had a rupture in our relationship. A rupture is when a relationship becomes tainted, in this case by mistrust. Luca is so young that all he can think is: Can I trust Mom or not? He can’t understand the why behind anything. He can’t understand why I wasn’t attending to him. Babies only know one thing, either you are helping them, or you’re not. They are like little animals just trying to survive. They can’t think, “Mom loves me and will attend to me eventually, she’s just busy right now.” It’s hard for me to remember that because that’s how I am able to think. So, I thought, “If I were a little baby monkey like my boo, what would communicate to me that I can trust my Mama?” To use psych terms: how can I repair this rupture in a way that makes sense to Luca? In this case, I decided to lay with him longer as he fell asleep. Then, when he woke-up, I put him in the Moby Wrap and to keep him close. You know what? He didn’t whine the rest of the day. We became in-sync again. (I should mention that I did go to coffee with a friend for about an hour while Caleb watched Luca, it was a nice little reprieve.)

Motherhood is tough. Can I get an amen? I wanted to share this story to encourage you all that if you start to get frustrated with your kid, remember to ask yourself if you’re trying to do too much. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Let your relationship with your kid be your priority. Studies show that if we develop trust with them now, it’ll be easier later. Life is so much simpler when we let go of making the house look perfect and crafting and social media obsessing (really, all this was over a stinkin’ YouTube Channel?!). And if you are exhausted, don’t try to change your baby’s behavior, try to get help. Enlist someone, anyone that you trust to help you get a break. Remember, your baby is just trying to get their needs met. Trying to change their behavior will probably just make your life more difficult now or later. I know it’s tough to ask for help, but do it for your baby. We all need help. Remember the whole, “It takes a village” thing? Yeah, it seriously does. We can all be supermoms, but only with the help of others.

*To learn more about child developmental stages such as Trust v. Mistrust (Year 1) check-out this link. I really like the chart included because it shows us how by developing trust within the first year, our babies are more likely to develop certain positive attributes as adults (such as interdependence).

If you liked this post, you may also like:
It Takes a Village (But Do We Accept That?)

Self-Anaylsis of a Supermom

Things I Never Thought I’d Say… And Then I Became a Mom

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3 thoughts on “How to Apologize to a Baby

  1. Oh my goodness, I so needed to read this. I have had a few similar moments this week and have felt TERRIBLE after realising my mistake. It’s easy to grow impatient when our little ones are fussy, but I love what you have pointed out here about how they just need comfort from us and need to be able to trust us. Thank you for posting.

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  2. […] 1. of or pertaining to manipulation; serving to manipulate. 2. influencing or attempting to influence the behavior or emotions of others for one’s own purposes. Well, maybe I’ll take that back. According to the definition above, kids are sort-of manipulative. They are concerned about their “own purposes” in the sense that they have needs and their job is to find out how to get them met (It’s a survival mechanism). But when we use the term “manipulative” we usually don’t mean it in this way. We usually think it means: my kid is going to put on some kind of unnecessary, exaggerated behavior so that they can get what they want. It’s like we think our kid is a miniature Dr. Evil, secretly conspiring to mess with us. In reality, kids are rightfully reacting to the absence of a need that they have. Often, because they can’t talk yet, we think babies are just being difficult. Yet, if they could talk, they might say things like: I’m crying because I miss you or my PJ’s are uncomfortable or… or… or… There are so many things that could be going on, yet we go over our small checklist (fed? rested? diaper changed?) and if all are ok, then the kid is just being manipulative. In other words, our kid is just being BAD. This is where our God Image comes in. How do you think God views people? Do you think He has a positive or negative view of us? Most of my life, I thought that God had a negative view of people. It wasn’t until I took a Spiritual Formation class at Vanguard University that I was taught otherwise. There, I was taught about the true definition of sin. I came to learn that sin isn’t necessarily a list of “bad behaviors,” rather it’s a posture of the heart. Sin is wanting to be our own God, which by default, means we are denying the one true God. All of the “bad behaviors” that we consider “sin” are really just a manifestation of our desire to obtain all of the things that God can give us but without turning to God. For example, often people abuse alcohol or drugs to find peace when life is demanding or overwhelming. Yet, God is the  only one who can provide us with true peace. By turning to a substance, we are telling God, “I don’t need you” and our bodies pay the price. This makes God sad and even angry because he loves us and doesn’t want to see us turn to destructive behavior. So God HATES this behavior because it is harmful to us and it keeps us from coming to Him. But he doesn’t hate us for doing it. In fact, one of the most profound things I learned in this class is that God sees us from a developmental perspective. Just as children have the capacity for learning and understanding according to their developmental stage, so do we as people have our limitations according to our spiritual development. God sees us uniquely, according to our capacity for understanding Him. What this means is this, if I am a “spiritual infant” in God’s eyes He will understand that my desire to get drunk every weekend is merely my desire for His peace. Although, I don’t recognize that what I want is “His” peace.  He offers grace and forgiveness for that behavior because he understands my heart. Out of his love, he will encourage me to come to him instead of alcohol because His peace isn’t harmful and it will provide me the true peace I desire. You can see from this illustration, that we could try to get “peace” from anything, even things that don’t seem “sinful” like… watching tv. So, the point that stood-out to me is this, God doesn’t see me as BAD. He sees me as a complex being that is trying to get a valid need met (peace) but just going about it in the only way I know how, wether it be by blog writing or by smoking crack. As a parent, I am trying to have this same perspective toward my kid. His mind is only so developed at this point. His tools for getting his needs met are extremely limited. He doesn’t have the complex understanding that his needs may be imposing on mine. He won’t even have the capacity for empathy- the ability to understand another’s feelings or experience- for YEARS from now. I think I’ll save myself a lot of frustration if I remind myself of his limitations. In a nutshell: my kid isn’t mean. He isn’t manipulative. He isn’t BAD. He’s just a living being trying to thrive in this world. As he gets older and has the capacity for it, I can teach him how to identify his emotions and how to use words to ask for things. He’ll be able to understand empathy eventually and then we can talk about “fairness” and things of that nature. Until then, I have to give Him the grace that God has given me. I know it’s the right thing to do but I’ll admit, it’s terribly difficult. Related Articles: – 13 Month Old Already Fighting With Mom (aha!parenting.com) – The Implications of Separation Anxiety (Or Why I Want to Hide Under a Rock) – How to Apologize to a Baby […]

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