If you’re looking for Kiwi, she’s busy trying to literally merge herself with me. Because she does nothing halfway, she’s taking the clingy phase to new extremes.
What, your toddler doesn’t try to smash herself into you with such force that you suddenly become one person instead of two? Isn’t that attachment parenting?
Oh, my bad. I thought that was totally normal behavior.
Taking the clingy phase to the next level
My toddler has totally gone through a clingy phase before. You know the ones: where she cries every time she’s not in your arms, where the separation of a door equals Geneva Convention-defying torture, where you end up peeing with a toddler on your lap because the screaming just isn’t worth doing your business alone.
But lately Kiwi has taken her clingy phase to a whole new level. Yes, she wants to be with me—no, connected to me—at all times. Example: I end up prepping dinner with an almost 2-year-old on my back in a carrier because I just can’t rock my mad knife skills one handed.
But she also tries to meld into me. She pushes her face against mine in what I can only interpret as an attempt to mind (and face) meld. This leaves me breathless—partly because I’m laughing and partly because she is blocking my airway with her face.
I call her my monkey because she clings so tightly to me that I have to peel her off if I want to set her down. And she protests this by climbing up my arms so the closer to the floor she gets, the higher she shimmies up my arms.
It’s exhausting. But it’s also a little hilarious.
Mommy timeouts are good for everyone
I have put myself in mommy timeout more than a few times in recent weeks. When the close contact of this clingy phase gets to be too much, I escape to my bedroom and lock the door.
Having the space to breathe—both figuratively and literally—helps me reset. It gives me the stamina and mental endurance to go about my life with a permanently stuck mini-me.
Yes, sometimes Kiwi overcomes her duct tape MO and runs around solo at the park. And sometimes she’ll become so absorbed in a book that she doesn’t notice that I’m washing the dishes without her. (The nerve!) These moments are lovely. They are a brief respite from the perma-closeness that I both love and hate, sometimes within the span of a few minutes.
“Savor these moments!” people sometimes gush if they see my toddler in my arms, refusing to be put down in the grocery checkout line, say.
But it is nearly impossible to enjoy every moment when you’re in the thick of it.
You know when I appreciate the fact that my toddler wants to press herself so close that we become one being?
When we are separated. By at least a few rooms. For at least a few minutes. With a locked door between us.
Sometimes at the end of these brief breaks I crave her near me again. Just as often I could do with an even longer break. But when I do come back to family life, I am always ready for the way she lights up when she sees me.
“Hi!” Kiwi says. And she runs into my open arms.