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Asking For Mommy

This past Sunday at church, Maddie hit
another first – and not a good one.

Maddie was playing happily in the nursery when one of her friends
started crying. Usually when this happens Maddie’s ok, but
this time for whatever reason she began crying as well – you
know, the old toddler crying snowball effect.

After a few moments, Maddie’s friend calmed down, but
Madeleine starting asking for Mama. I think she realized for the
first time that I was not ten seconds away- that she was alone in
there with people who, while nice, were Not Mama. With this
realization, of course, the crying simply escalated. One of the
workers came to get me, and I immediately came down. By the time I
arrived Maddie had calmed down a bit, and I was greeted at the door
by a tear-stained, hiccupping daughter being cuddled by one of the
workers. She leapt into my arms, I ran to get Silky out of her bag
– the nursery workers hadn’t known about it – and
the tension drained out of Maddie’s body.

“Maddie cry,” she announced
gravely as she clung like a monkey to me.

“Yes, I know, sweetheart – I’m sorry,” I

“Ask for Mommy,” she continued, and snuggled down in my
arms, content that she’d done the right thing and been
rewarded for her faith in me.

For the rest of the day my daughter repeated those two sentences,
as if she were memorizing a road map to get her out of any sticky
situation. At first I was happy the solution seemed so obvious, so
easy, and I’d reply, “Yes, honey, any time you need to,
you can just ask for Mommy.”

But as the day went on I became more and more wary of giving her
that answer. Because the hard truth is that I won’t always be
available to comfort her, and then she’ll have to learn an
even harder lesson – Mommy’s Not Always There. As it
stands now, I don’t go in to comfort Maddie if she wakes in
the middle of the night unless she specifically asks for me.
Sometimes she’ll wake up and give a few cries, and I’ll
hold off until I hear the “Mama! Mama!” on the monitor
because most times she’ll put herself back to sleep. But so
far I’ve been able to answer that Mama call when it goes out.

What happens when she asks for me and I’m in the middle of
labor? Staying overnight in the hospital? In the midst of a
colicky, screaming, all-night nursing? We’ve been encouraging
Maddie’s independence, her ability to self-comfort, and I
think it will stand her in good stead in a couple of months.
We’ve also been pushing Maddie’s relationship with my
mom, having her put Maddie down for naps, do meals, etc., so
Maddie’s used to it when I go AWOL during delivery. But there
are moments when only Mama will do, and I’m frankly not
looking forward to the time when she realizes I have the ability to
let her down.

For now I do the best I can and try not to dwell on things I have
no control over. And I enjoy that, at least right now, she trusts
that all she has to do is “Ask for Mama” and life will
get better.


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