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I am afraid that my baby doesn't love me (long, sorry)

(27 Posts)
ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 19:45:47

To clarify: I'm not SURE that he loves me. I fear that he may love his childminder/his dad/his grandad more than me.

I'm a lurker here, really, I have posted a few times but mostly my DS (14 months) has been pretty easy. He is very cheerful, very confident with people, had a (very) brief clingy period when about 10 months. I work fulltime and he goes to an amazing childminder 8-5.30, which he absolutely loves. He had no problems settling (started at 6 months) and generally doesn't cry when I leave him, or act particularly pleased when I fetch him. All these are basically good things, I know, but somehow I have it in my head that he doesn't love me - much. I feel miserable when he doesn't come for a cuddle at the end of the day, or when he cries if I pick him up (not very often, but sometimes).

I'm basically terrified that I have done something to ruin the bond between us. Or maybe we never bonded. Or something. But I also have a feeling that this might be all in my head, and I shouldn't ruin the precious - and short - time we have together by worrying constantly and looking for signals that he loves me ...

Just looking for reassurance I suppose, or maybe tips as to how to interact with DS in a way that will make him love me/feel more bonded, given I have very little time with him.

choosyfloosy Mon 14-Sep-09 19:57:54

I do know that feeling - your child heads happily off to childcare with barely a backward glance and you feel - what? Torn? Partly quite glad to head off and do some grown-up stuff, partly proud that they seem so sorted, partly sad that it's not a question of only-my-mum-will-do... a funny, queasy mix.

I am certain, certain, certain that he loves you. I also know that it can be quite possible to get out of sync with a small child when they are in childcare a fair bit. You love them - of course - but what does that mean, day to day?

Here's a hard one, and it makes me sound weird - but try this (well, maybe you already are). Institute a Sabbath in your house. I tried to do this for a couple of years. On that day, you don't do housework and you're not supposed to do cooking (I reckon nowadays something from the freezer will do the job!) Also stay off telly etc if you can. You do family time - concentrating on the child(ren), listening, watching, following their lead, spending time together with no distractions. It's SO hard. I remember feeling proud of myself if I managed 5 minutes of real focus on ds!

Another quite nice one - once a month, go to bed with your child (maybe your partner too, if you have one?) Have a bath together, get into pyjamas, brush teeth together, read a story in your bed (assuming they have a cot) and just drift off together without fighting it.

These probably sound a bit po-faced but they may spark ideas for you. To be honest, remember that they save all the bad feelings to let them out with you - because they know they are safe with you. Best of luck.

smackapacka Mon 14-Sep-09 20:00:43

Ah that's not a long post! I don't have a clingy/cuddly child at all. I comfort myslef with the thought that it's becuase of the love that she gives/receives that allows her not to be (if that makes sense). She's 20 months, and has never whimpered in childcare. Last week I had to prize her little hands away from the toy car she was playing with at hometime.

I did waver when she was younger that she and I weren't bonding, and I did things to try and rectify this - rear facing buggy, booking activities, really TRYING to be involved in her world. But honestly? She just isn't an 'affectionate' child.

Congratulate yourself on raising a happy well rounded little man. He sounds lovely.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 20:02:26

Thanks for replying. Feel a bit weepy about it to be honest. I do try very hard to focus just on DS in the evenings - we have about 30 mins to an hour before he goes to bed - and some of the time at weekends, and I usually feel a bit better about things at the end of the weekend. I'm wobbling a bit today because my FIL was around this weekend and DS ADORES him. he goes shrieking up to him for cuddles and just loves him to death - it's terribly sweet and I'm really glad about it, but at the same time I have this little sad feeling inside that thinks "he doesn't do that for me". same with the other kids at the childminder - their mums come (to be fair, they are older, 2 and 4) and they go running over for hugs, whereas DS barely glances up, and occasionally cries.

I will try and think of some family time things though, maybe that will help. Thanks.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 20:04:40

Thanks Smackapacka. He is absolutely lovely - perfect in every way (of course!) Everyone comments about how confident/cheery he is, and actually he can be very cuddly and come for kisses and things, as long as it's on his terms. Maybe I just need to accept it a bit more and also try to play with him intensively when I can.

smackapacka Mon 14-Sep-09 20:12:10

And try and enjoy what you are doing, and not beat yourself up about it. I returned to work early as I was <whispers> bored at home with DD. She started (part-time) at nursery at 18 weeks, and I occasionally felt a pang of guilt that she was a bit young, but I am now able to say that it was the right thing for the whole family and that she's better off for a host of reasons about the choices I made. When she was one I swtiched job bases so she went to a childminder. Again, no problems settling in or anything. It's just her character. I know people with REALLY clingy children and it seems to bring its own problems - I don't envy them I don't think I'm an outwardly affectionate person. I can show love as an adult in different ways. I think my DD (and maybe your DS) are too young to show it in different ways, but it's there!

Oh and don't even get me started on the greeting that her Dadddy gets when he walks in the room!

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 20:24:02

I am wondering if that is maybe part of my problem - I was quite bored at home, but really didn't want to go back to work fulltime. Part-time is my dream, and hopefully in about 18 months I will be able to (not financially possible at the mo). So perhaps part of this (probable?) paranoia is that I really DON'T feel that the balance is right at the moment. I long to be at home with DS (not all the time, mind!) and quite often cry my way to work sad

Supercherry Mon 14-Sep-09 20:28:14

The thing is, babies and toddlers are extremely self centred and me me me, they are supposed to be like that. They are the centre of their universe. That's normal.

We don't have babies for them to love us do we? We have babies so we can love them.

I would just be very proud of yourself and happy that your DS is obviously happy and contented. That's a job well done IMO.

PortAndLemon Mon 14-Sep-09 20:29:04

What's he like when he's ill? I always found that oddly reassuring with DS because when he was ill he REALLY wanted me, no doubt about it.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 20:35:08

Gosh, this is so reassuring. Thanks for the replies. I was really upset this evening because DS kept putting his arms up for a cuddle and then crying to be put down, and he whacked me in the face a few times, and I put 2 (whacks and crying) and 2 (grandad and CM) together and made a big fat 5 of I-don't-love-my-mummy. Feel much better now.

PortAndLemon, to be honest he doesn't really get ill (! he is, as I said, the perfect child). He is astonishingly robust and has only once had diarrhoea, never vomited (possetting, on the other hand, he had down to a fine art), very very rarely a temperature. He sleeps badly when teething and gets the occasional runny nose/blocked tear duct but that's really it. He does like sitting on me when feeling under the weather though, once in a blue moon, I can count on the fingers of one hand the times he has done this.

I don't know. I kinda know that he does love me, that it is all my issue, and as Supercherry said he is happy and contented which is wonderful. I wonder how I can stop being so pathetic about it.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 20:37:39

Just thought. It's bound to be something to do with my failure to breastfeed, isn't it? I only managed up to 6 weeks, with great great difficulty, and it was when I started bottle feeding (expressed some of his milk until 3 mo and then fully formula fed from then on) that he turned into mr happy smiley baby. I was beyond gutted about it and still feel like sobbing when I think about it too much - bet this worry about him loving me is to do with that. Doh.

roseability Mon 14-Sep-09 20:43:56

My DS is three and a half and has gone through various stages of indifference to me

He has always been more of a Daddy's boy, never cried when I left him with his Granny and sometimes even pushed me away when I returned from work

It used to get me down but I realise now it is just his character. He is very secure and independent. He doesn't like to cuddle much and only on his terms. When he falls and hurts himself he picks himself up and doesn't like to make a fuss.

I learnt to just be 'with' him, rather than trying to force affection. I also accept that sometimes he feels more secure with his Daddy (although sometimes it is with me).

He does love me, I know that now and your DS loves you too.

At the end of the day my DS is happy and well adjusted. He has just started playgroup with no problems at all.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 21:00:53

Thanks roseability, it is nice to have a baby so confident and independent really. Need to just get a grip on myself and try to be "with" him as you say without being all over him trying to get him to be something he isn't.

roseability Mon 14-Sep-09 21:30:02

Hi there. I do totally understand your feelings. I have only just got used to my DS unclingy nature now at aged three! I mean he really has never been clingy! I once wound myself up reading attachment theories and convinced myself he wasn't securely attached because he never had stranger anxiety. You are not trying to get him to be something he is not, but just a caring mum. I just meant that I think some babies/toddlers are inherently more or less clingy than others regardless of the mother's behaviour

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Mon 14-Sep-09 21:40:57

I have read attachment theories too - awful guilt-inducing things, I do realise that if DS had some kind of terrible unattachment he wouldn't be so happy all (most of) the time. It just got to me that he was so pleased to see his Grandad when he'd been out of the room 20 minutes and then just not at all bothered about me being there when I picked him up this evening.

Amanie Wed 16-Sep-09 23:03:43

I've just come across this thread and am so glad I found it. I have had exactly the same experience as ThisIsBloodyHardWork and don't know what I am doing wrong. my DS is 11 months and is completely attached to his father but not to me. When he is upset or tired, he only wnats him. Sometimes he won't even want to come to me for a hug when he hasn't seen me for a while. I had a miscarriage recently and this has become almost unbearable for me, really feels like a rejection everytime it happens.

lilacclaire Wed 16-Sep-09 23:38:01

My ds was the same.
A clever lady said to me, 'why do you think he is so happy and confident?' because you've done such a good job in raising him.
My theory is that they are only this happy and confident, because they know without question that YOU are there for them regardless and this gives them the confidence to form and bond to others.
You are the backbone of him.

ThisIsBloodyHardWork Thu 17-Sep-09 15:26:53

Hi Amanie
I just wrote a long message and it got wiped - grr. But just to sympathise, and wondering if you might find some of the suggestions above helpful? I am definitely going to do the Sabbath thing, and have already decided to keep my DS up later after I come home from work in order to play with him, which I think is already making a difference to my confidence.

I'm sorry you're having such a hard time but I'm sure it will get better.

Amanie Thu 17-Sep-09 20:38:28

Thanks for your messages. Its reassuring that there are others who have had the same experience. I think I have to just keep approaching him with a positive and loving manner and try to not let my frustration and my emotion show. I have to keep reminding myself that I am the parent and he just a baby. The suggestions you've made are all good and I'll definately try them. Thanks!

bevlin Tue 22-Sep-09 20:42:49

Hi all mums of non clingy babies. I have two words - Enjoy it!
thisisbloodyhardwork Your son could be my son at 14 months and beyond. Never ever clingy, cuddly, would rather push my face away than get a kiss. Would happily leave home with the bin man and never look back.
I went back to work when he was 14 months and he couldn't have given less of a shit! He loved my mum looking after him all afternoon and his dad rest of the evening (I was constant backshift). I used to lie and ask if he asked for me and said that I hoped he didn't (totally lying that Id rather he was happy and not asking for me blush), My DH and mum would cheerfully answer, nope, he was quite happy sad. He was (still is) same with his grandad, the man is god. The guilt ate me up and I packed in work to become a SAHM when he was 18 months. He carried on being exactly like your DS. Loved everyone, not batting an eyelid wether I was there or not. I started leaving him in a gym creche from 19 months until recently and he was so not bothered when I left and cried everytime I unleashed him from the toys and nice ladies there.
He is now 2.4 years old and do you think I can bloody move for him, no, he is constantly attached to me asking for cuddles and kisses and can't even play on his own without dragging me to sit with him hmm.
Don't get me wrong, he would still go with anyone and grandad is still the ultimate humanbeing next to daddy of course (it's a boy thing) but age has everything to do with it. You wait until you are trying to peel him off your leg to go to the loo, you'll look back with fond memories!

DuchessOfAvon Tue 22-Sep-09 20:59:22

Bevlin beat me to it.

DD1 has always been the most confident and independent child. No whinges at nursery, adores Daddy-God, clung to me only when ill i.e., hardly ever.

Now at just gone three, she is permanently attached to me. A little hand hanging onto my cuff, a sharp elbow in my side, hot breath on the side of my face. I love it for about two minutes and then it drives me insane. And its all a response to her younger sister just hitting adorable and clingy with it.

Its nothing to do with the love they have for you - that's deepset - this is everything to do with them and the stage they are at. My DD doesn't suddenly love me - she's just jealous of her sister.

Frankieincuba Sat 26-Sep-09 10:14:46

Oh my god what a insightful and uplifting way of looking at it. The funny thing is it really does ring true. You know you are doing a good job and you know you are the adult in the situation. It has been a rude awakening that I am obviously so sensitive. my little girl is so independent and at 10 months is not needy for me in any way. Even breast feeding she would push away and off my breast when she was done. Now when she is on the bottle, she wriggles once she is finished and wants to flip and turn over and take off into the sunset. Sleeps fabulously but is just so busy in between. Thanks for that comment. I searched tonight feeling a bit forlorn on a saturday night on my own wondering if anyone else in the world feels this way! too scared to ask friends if fear of being labelled post natal Your comment reminded me of one I heard recently which was "When does a baby smile?" The answer being "Just in time." Best wishes

Wonderstuff Sat 26-Sep-09 10:35:32

My dd is also very unclingy, she is 22 months and has never been clingy. Get to nursery and other children are wanting mummy and upset that mummy isn't there yet. DD doesn't look up. When she does notice me I get a brief glance, maybe she will tell me 'toys' then she wonders off int the other direction. If I arrive with my mum she runs up to Nanna and gives her a hug.

Rest assured it has nothing to do with breastfeeding. I still breastfeed her, she doesn't ask for mummy when she is tired but booboo. Its not about me but my ability to lactate, if someone else could do it she would be happy to go to them.

I think that she is so secure that she takes me for granted, it doesn't occur to her that I may not be around. Even though she is in nursery all day 3 days a week I always show up at the end of the day.

The other day I saw a toddler have a full on temper tantrum when his mum showed up because he wanted daddy, and I thought, I'm not alone, does your ego no good though does it.

jemart Sat 26-Sep-09 10:43:56

Firstly, do not fret, your baby really does love you. BUT leaving him in childcare is going to affect the bond you have, at least in the short term - I had the exact same thing with my eldest dd when I went back to work. I became a SAHM with my second and am much closer to her. Eldest dd loves me very much but is much more independent and out going, on balance this is a good thing I think.

fizzpops Sat 26-Sep-09 10:57:24

I think this is a sign that you have a great bond with your son, and he with you.

You leave him and he never doubts that he will come and get you, whereas Daddy/ Grandma/ childminder etc he is not so sure of.

I have been having these feeling recently with DD (17 months) and for the first time on Thursday she came running to me when I went to collect her from nursery. Now I am worrying she is not happy! But only slightly smile

I find that if I have been looking after her for a while and Daddy comes into the room it is all about Daddy, but also vice versa. She is going through a phase of being more about Mummy but I find a lot of my friends say the same things - they are the discipline and the norm and Daddy (or others) is the fun and the 'exotic'.

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