When you’re three-feet-high and just learning to articulate your feelings (which means yell-storms every 45 minutes and contests of wills), this is a rather overwhelming thought. So n is worried about me in particular and all mommies in general. Does the goose in Jogger’s Park have an amma? Where is she? Does the pigeon have an amma? Where is she? Does Noddy have an amma? Does the child in the picture book? Anything that looks young and vulnerable, must be accompanied by its mother. Then the universe will be a safe place for babies everywhere, and n can relax.
And it’s not enough for the mom to be in the same frame – as in a picture or on tv. She has to be involved, doing whatever it takes to make n feel that the baby is safe. Like we have this xylophone-cum-book in which every page has the notes to a song, which is also illustrated. Sometimes she opens it and ‘plays’ each song, moving briskly and fairly tunelessly from one to the other. Last night I caught her staring worriedly at the picture of a song called Lullaby and good night, thy mother’s delight. It showed a mama bear who had apparently just finished tucking baby bear into his bed and was smiling down at him, affection oozing out of every anthropomorphic line.
So I asked, “What happened?” and she replied, “Where baby bear’s amma?” And I pointed to the ‘amma’ bear and said, “Right there.” So she stares at it some more and then asks, “Where she going to sleep?” Of course. Now I know what’s upsetting her. For someone who sleeps wedged prophylactically between her parents, the thought of a mommy ‘putting’ her baby to bed and then walking away is a crazy, nightmarish one. Especially as we all know that night is the time when 1. it’s dark. 2. bad dreams come, 3. there’s that scary thing called the moon lurking around!
Speaking of co-sleeping – or not – I spent a good year pondering over the Western concept of letting babies sleep alone. I swayed between ‘What a wonderful idea!’ and ‘How completely barbaric!’ It doesn’t work for me, but lucky are those who have the stomach for it!