Cling to Me

People keep asking me whether Joey is a good baby—without fail, I reply “He’s a sweetheart.” I’m sidestepping a little, in part because the question feels weird, but in part because of Joey. He’s a sweetheart to me. Oh, sure, he has had some rough afternoons; teething is hard, and he’s frustrated by his helplessness. But overall, he’s a sweet guy and he seems to enjoy my company.


I’ve read in a few different places that babies don’t care who takes care of them for the first six months, just so long as they’re cared for—but someone forgot to tell Joey that. That’s the other part of the answer to that question. I will sometimes go to Starbucks for a few hours so that I can work on the computer, leaving Joey with his Pop, and Joey apparently screams nonstop while I’m gone. He will usually let someone else hold him if I’m in the room, but if I go into another room, he completely loses it. This isn’t just a nursing thing, I don’t think; he doesn’t like the bottle, but will take one if he’s hungry. No, he seems to really want me around—me in particular. I was thinking about this and looking at him yesterday, and I said to Mr. Book, “Cricket didn’t need me.”


Cricket was, as I understand it, perfectly content to be with any friendly person when he was tiny. There was no reason to think that he missed me, or missed either of his moms when he was left with a sitter. I think about that, looking at Joey, and wonder whether Joey insists on having me around because his brother was sent away. Not that he knows that, of course, but maybe there’s something in me that he’s picking up. He’s happy at home, he’s happy out and about, he’s happy in the bath or on the bus or having his diaper changed . . . just so long as I’m there. He’ll sleep or nap only with me. And I’m happy with my little limpet, and am happy to take him with me to the bank or the shower or wherever I need to go, but at the same time I worry that I did this.

9 thoughts on “Cling to Me

  1. You didn’t do this. Not that “this” is a bad thing! But you didn’t do it.

    As an adoptive mother I have spent a whole lot of time thinking about parenting and children and our role in the whole process. This is what I believe…

    Children are born to be who they are and each child is different. I’ve heard it said that a child’s personality is set by 5 years old. I disagree. I think they are born with it. Nurture has some impact because each individual’s environment, education and how they are cared for definitely impacts their personality. But that’s just it — it impacts who they would be anyway. It colors their view of the world. Their perspective. But when it comes to Nature vs. Nurture in regards to a child’s intrinsic character traits, talents, intelligence and so on — Nature wins out every time. Every. Single. Time.

    So, stop worrying so much and do the best you know how to do. But don’t think that anything you have already done or may do in the future will make or break him. It takes really horrendous parenting to actually damage a child. I do not think you could possibly be capable of that terrible of a job! Our jobs, as parents, are to provide our children with the experiences and opportunities that will help them to explore the world and figure out their place in it. And you are already doing that.


  2. While it is always interesting to think about what kind of nonverbal signals one sends, I think babies really are born with a distinctly different personalities. While a baby, my first kid wanted me and only me, and my second was happy with any kind person. Now that they are older they have reversed. My sister had the opposite pattern with her 2. Other babies I have met have neither pattern, but are happy only in certain places, etc. All this to say that I don’t think you did anything to cause Joey to attach to you so strongly. I am glad your personality and his mesh so happily – it’s always such a joy when that happens.

  3. what. they. said. you DID NOT “do this.” babies are all so, so different, right from the beginning. and i’m so glad you and j are so happy together!

  4. He’s your little Joey, your littel kangaroo baby. Enjoy it. Easy for me to say, but stop blaming yourself for everyting. In this case, there is nothing “bad” going on to even place blame for. Enjoy him.

  5. i think they are who they are.
    & we are who we are–as parents, we bring different selves (or aspects of selves) to the table at different moments.

    both can be true.

    i like the idea that he is who he is & yeah, joey the little kangaroo babe would want the pocket ride.

    i also like the comment that you two are happy.

  6. I also think they are who they are.

    My first stayed home with her dad when I returned to work, she was fine. When I left the second with dad to go to work, that baby would be crying as I walked out the door and crying when I came back in it. But very mellow if I just stayed home. And avoided restaurants.

    Baby number three was mellow always, is mellow now.

    Since my fourth was adopted post-infancy, I don’t know what he was like when he was little but since he’s such an extrovert now I suspect he was like kid #1.

  7. There are lots of different interesting thoughts in your post and in the comments, and I enjoyed reading everyone’s insights. I love your phrase little limpet. I like Joey’s combination of feeling very close to his mom and also craving mobility. I bet it’ll be awesome to explore the world together through his eyes.

  8. I think it’s great that you and Joey have such great attachment to each other. It’s wonderful!

    I agree with commenters above who have said that each child is different. My elder is far less interested in cuddling and physical stuff than my younger. Part of that is simply who they are. Part is (perhaps) that my elder was in the NICU for a week and was hospitalized on and off during his first three months of life. And that I had no idea how to be his mother, whereas it came so easily the second time.

    I also want to throw out there that Cricket may well have been as cuddly and attached to you as Joey if you had parented him. Knowing what I know of you from your descriptions of parenting Joey, that’s definitely possible. I also have to wonder about what R & N told you about Cricket being happy with just anyone. I remember your telling me that after he was born, you didn’t see him again for six months. Could be that his aparents played themselves up quite a bit in their accounts to emphasize what great parents they were and how easy parenting was. I hate to have such a suspicious side, but that’s the adoptee in me. Cricket may well have been an “easy” baby, but I really think that he would have preferred you and Mr. Book, hands down, as his parents.

  9. My son was totally like Joey. He was very specifically interested in me. I think all babies are like that. Cricket had to survive, so he didn’t have that luxury. I think it is a mistake though to think that babies who are given away have different needs than kept children.

    My mom was big into that one, that I was some kind of fairy-child that didn’t have the same needs as a real girl. Nope.

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