Khadijah turned five months old a few days ago, Alhamdulillah.
Here’s where she is development-wise: She is already a pro at rolling over, moving forward, backward and turning 360 degrees on her belly. Yesterday I just realised that she can actually sit up unsupported quite well – something I didn’t thought she would this early hence I didn’t attempt to put her in the position until yesterday. She plays well on her own; with her feet and hands, and also a responsive playmate to her brother. Well, including destructing whatever her brother builds.
And she loves to smile. That’s what everyone tells me, and I agree. She is such a sweetheart.
Khadijah grows before my eyes with rarely a moment missed. Regardless of what people think, this fact doesn’t make much of a difference to me. Isa grew up well under the care of others for a quarter of the day and I think he’s doing alright, and though I am her mother, I know I could never guarantee that my care is the best.
Nevertheless, when Khadijah cried for my attention, my mind sometimes wonder – that must had happened to Isa too when he was at his creche back then; crying for his mother who was nowhere to be found. Did somebody pick him up, comfort him and cheer him up when he cried just like how I do to Khadijah? How did he cope with that me not being there?
I tried to stop my mind from wondering much further, for I know if I do, I’ll break down into tears. I told myself those days are gone. I am living now, I am living today. Don’t relive the past.
Living 24/7 with an infant is, to sum it up, intense. For the past few weeks I was ridden with guilt: am I providing enough stimulation for Khadijah? Have I left her to be alone too much that it will affect her? Most of the time I feel like I HAVE to do something with her, but I run out of things to do. Or too tired to do anything. Or too occupied with other things.
Then I realised how different it is this time, living and caring for an infant. I had it easy last time, raising and caring for Isa with assistance, that I didn’t get to taste the REAL challenge (or at least what I think so) of being with a young child.
With my first born, I was willing to pour all my energy to him during the limited hours I got to spend with him. Add the ‘working mom guilt‘ into the equation, you have a child who rarely had to entertain himself. When half of Isa’s waking hours were spent with someone else, the work left for me to do was not much. There were days that I didn’t even get (or have to) change his clothes or bath him. Not that I am all sentimental about this, but bath time and changing time are great bonding moments for me, and I was exempted from those before.
My guilt with leaving Khadijah more frequent than I would with Isa led me to, of course, googling about the effect. This funnily brought me to Magda Gerber’s philosophy which basically lift some of the guilt off me. Well, I may not yet be converted from more or less an attachment parenting subscriber, but RIE (Resources for Infant Educarer) does have some points when it puts ‘encouraging uninterrupted, self-directed play’ as one of its basic principles.
It’s true that one-fits-all parenting approach is impossible. No two kids are the same, and my life situation also changes.
Though I every now and then I wonder if Khadijah is a more independent because of the more laid-back approach I adopt with her, or the other way around: she’s more independent naturally that this approach fits her well, I guess if she is happy (which she seems to be) there is no reason for me to worry.
May Allah guide us all.