When I first got into this whole parenting thing, I expected to spend a lot of time holding my babies. I mean, that was part of the deal, right? And cuddly babies are the absolute best. But what I didn’t expect was that there’d be times my babies actually wouldn’t let me put them down. At all.
Enter, the “Velcro baby” — i.e., the baby who wants to be held 24/7 and cries bloody murder if you try to put them down.
Not everyone is blessed with such a child; and of course, it’s not always all or nothing. There are babies who have a few weeks, or even hours of the day, that they cling to you like glue, and other times where they’re more amenable to being put down (so Mom can be a human for a second).
But anyone who’s ever had a Velcro baby will tell you that it’s incredibly exhausting. You start to feel like you’ll never get anything done. You start to wonder if there is something wrong with your baby. And the rest of the world’s opinions on the whole thing will start coming at you, fast and furiously.
All of this is why I found it so incredibly validating when I came across a now-viral post by blogger Katherine Thornalley, whose description of what it’s like to have a Velcro baby is 1,000% accurate.
She also does something truly refreshing: Instead of looking at a clingy baby as a negative thing, she asks us to consider that it could actually be a blessing in disguise.
“What if we saw children sleeping on us as a positive?” Thornalley writes. “What if we viewed the babies who refuse to go down to nap as a sign that we need to slow down?”
In her post, Thornalley — who runs the blog Mrs. Mombastic — speaks specifically about “contact naps” (i.e. when you let your baby nap while nestled on your chest). For many of us busy moms, nap time is usually the time when we expect to get stuff done — chores, phone calls, a quick workout … you name it. So spending nap time with a sleeping baby virtually glued to us means we lose those precious minutes of potential productivity. That can be really frustrating, to say the least; especially when those moments are few and far between.
“What if we changed our perceptions on contact naps,” Thornalley asks, “and instead viewed them as an opportunity to relax?”
It’s not that she doesn’t understand the urge to get things done during nap time. Or that she easily forgets about her endless to-do list while trapped under her sleeping baby.
“[M]y mind wonders towards the dishes piling up in the sink,” she writes. “The pile of laundry stacked up in the bathroom. The dust that has settled on the TV.”
And then, like so many of us moms who dare take even a few minutes to “just be” and let the chores go for a bit, Thornalley shares that she too starts to feel that familiar, ever-present, nagging sense of guilt that comes with putting it all off.
“I start thinking about work that could be done. Or food that needs to be cooked,” she says. “I try to put baby down, but no way. Baby is having NONE of it.”
Oh, girlfriend. I so feel you on that! I’ve lost count of all the times I’ve made grand plans for getting stuff done, only to find myself pinned under a snoozing baby who clearly has other plans.
But again, Thornalley asks all of us busy moms to just try and see things in a different light.
“But what if, just say, WHAT IF this is how it is SUPPOSED to be?” she writes. “Alright yes, we know that evolutionary babies are designed to want to be close to their mothers, but what if that is also meant to work out for the mother to rest too. It’s meant to be for OUR benefit.”
Thornalley also comments on the emotional journey we take postpartum, and how many of us don’t take the time to heal after childbirth. What if the constant need for babies to be held in those early weeks and months is about our wellbeing, just as much as theirs?
“Childbirth has put our bodies under some serious stress,” she writes. “And there are always a million things that need to be done before the day is over. Perhaps our babies and children needing us to be still with them is nature’s way of telling us to slow down for just a moment.”
Mind = blown.
Babies really do require us moms to slow down. But I never really considered that maybe there was a biological imperative at play here. It makes sense when you think about it though, considering how experts say it can take up to a year (or more) to recover after giving birth.
I’m not the only one who’s been blown away by Thornalley’s message. Since the article was posted just a few days ago, it’s racked up more than 60K likes, 10K comments, and a whopping 44K shares. Clearly, this is a message that moms all over need to hear.
Thornalley, who lives in England with her husband and two young children, says she was never expecting such a strong public reaction to her post.
“I must say that I’ve been very surprised,” she tells Babble. “I think that the main thing that I was hoping to achieve was to let just a few mums who have children who nap on them know that it is perfectly normal.”
She admits that she’s gotten “frustrated” from contact naps in the past herself, and that with her first child, she even resisted the idea of them. But when her second baby came along — who she says was even more clingy than her first — she began to see things differently.
Her youngest is now 14 months, but Thornalley says she still naps on her sometimes.
“I often sit there under my sleeping 14-month-old and think of all of the things that need doing,” she admits. “But I’ve learned the hard way (burn outs) that rest is more important.”
Part of the reason Thornalley has shared such intimate details of her motherhood experience is because she battled postpartum depression with both of her babies, and believes that being honest about our struggles is vital.
“I decided one day that I would share my journey with other mums so that they would not feel alone,” she says. “The more I opened up, the more I learned that others felt the same. The more honest I was, the more other mothers would start to share with me, and in turn, the more normal I started to feel.”
Judging from the amazing response the post has gotten, it sounds like this mom is doing a fantastic job helping other mothers feel less alone — and reminding them that yes, it’s totally normal to have a baby that will never let you put them down. Ever.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.More On