I’m raising dependent children. No, that’s not a typo. I know that independent children is supposed to be the thing that parents want to achieve, but it’s really the last thing I want to do. Like, literally the last thing I do as a parent will be when my child becomes independent. That’s when they move out, get a job, rent their own place, start doing their own laundry and when that day comes this Mumma is going to celebrate with a bottle of champers! But really, that’s at least a decade and a half away! Right now, with a 2 and 5 year old, independence isn’t the lesson of the day.
I’m a bit of a worrier, so as morbid as it is, I have thought about what happens if something catastrophic happens to me during the day when I’m home alone with the kids during the day.
I would like to think that my 5 year old would have the sense to “get help”, though that would be shifting his dependence from me, to someone else. But it’s a really scary thought what would happen to my 2 year old if I was incapacitated for the 6 hours that I’m home alone with her through the day. And that’s just 6 hours. What about 24 hours? Or a week. I don’t need to spell out how things would work out if my children didn’t have anyone to be dependent on for a week.
So, my kids are completely dependent, if not on me, then on at least someone. They can play independently – under some supervision, they can dress themselves – in the clothes that I wash for them, they can feed themselves – the food that I buy and often prepare for them. They’re individual people and I try to allow them to be as autonomous as possible; my 2 year old “dressed her” this morning, which involved changing her PJ pants for her brother’s PJ shorts and putting on gumboots and then heading for the door.
As someone who follows many of the ideas behind Attachment Parenting I have heard all the tutt-tutts about raising dependent children. Don’t cosleep, don’t breastfeed beyond infancy, don’t babywear, and for the love of all that is good in this world, do not respond to them when they cry! As though the worst thing we could teach a baby is to be dependent. Sorry, but no matter how you raise your children, they ARE dependent on you, for many many years, whether you breastfeed, cosleep, or not. It’s an unavoidable part of being a parent.
It’s also not a bad thing. The dependency and unconditional love that comes with children is powerful, even though it can be overwhelming at time. I can do things that I’d never have thought was possible – like function moderately well on very little sleep. It’s amazing what parents can cope with, because they have to.
If ever I have worried about the future, I have to remember Pinky Mackay’s wise words:
“I am sure there aren’t many mums who have had to set up side car cots next to their grown up kids and, if your child does still likes to snuggle up to a breast when he’s twenty one – you can be sure it won’t be yours!”