By Sreedevi Nair
Real stories of being a mother, by mothers.
My son was the typical "highly demanding" "fussy", "hypersensitive" and "clingy" baby. These were words used by anyone who met him and saw his interactions with me. I was oft-advised (some subtly and others not so subtly) about how I need to either "ignore" these constant demands and "attention-seeking" behaviours or not give into his every need and try and delay, and not immediately addressing every cry/tantrum/impatience he was showing. "If you don't get your act together and show him who's the boss, he will grow up into a self-absorbed and demanding child", they said.
My intuition and common sense kept telling me that a baby who is "high needs", isn't so by choice. If he has high needs, then as a mother my role is to find out why they are so and to help ease out his frustrations in the best way possible. But, this meant taking a career break to be with him for extended periods of time, rocking him to sleep, staying up several sleepless nights, understanding where his needs were stemming from and getting to the root causative factors.
This seemed counterintuitive to many and on several occasions caused me to question my parenting skills (or lack thereof).
However, I slowly recognized several sensory issues and I needed to figure out simple activities and routines for the same. Furthermore, I even sought expert advice and medical help for issues beyond my understanding or expertise.
12 years have since passed. I would never claim I am a great parent or I have the best-behaved kid. We both are far from being a perfect mom or a perfect son. One thing I'm sure of though and would never want to change is my willingness and my tiring days of giving in, attending to and supporting any emotional fluctuations he showed. I don't consider that as an indulgence or spoiling the child.
It was every bit of catering to the "fussy", "cranky" "demanding'" baby and toddler that made him feel secure, loved and accepted for who he was. It was recognizing those tiny neurodivergent pathways and behaviours shown thereof and providing a solid anchor through it that helped him. The journey continues every day.
Next time you are wondering if you are "spoiling" your baby every time he/she seems a little too "fussy", "demanding, "cranky" and you aren't "ignoring" or "correcting" these behaviours that people around you feel you should, know one thing – It is that you are doing just fine and your baby is being loved and nurtured in the right way.
When children feel they can trust that their demands will be met with patience, love and unconditional regard, they grow up to be secure and happy adults.
“Being a mother is learning about the strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed”
~ Linda Wooten
About the author-
Sree has Postgraduate degrees in Clinical Psychology and Human Development. She has worked in the field of special education and disability awareness for several years. Teaching Psychology concepts and research methodology to young adults has been her choice of career for almost a decade now. She assures us that her toughest "work experience" though has been trying to train her strong willed Lhasa and parent her 12 year old son!