Rowan has never been a snuggly kid. Even as a little baby, she wasn't a cuddler. She would fight and kick if you held her too close, and though she wanted to be with you. At church, when she is taken to the nursery/play room, she runs in with barely a backward glance. She'll give you a hug or kiss goodbye, if you ask, but then shouts, "BYE!", waves, and heads toward the shelves filled with toys. While the other moms have to sit and play with their kids for 10 minutes until they are ready to be left alone, despite the fact that they go every week, I head back to the sanctuary, barely missing a minute.
A few months ago, we had an adult double date with some friends. A matinee and dinner, while the kids were being watched by our friends' daycare provider and her daughter. When we got back, Debbie commented on how much fun she'd had with Rowan, and that she'd love to watch her again.
"Most kids who stay at home with mom aren't very well-adjusted. Rowan is amazing! She had no problems with you leaving, made herself at home, and was a perfect angel. We had so much fun! She even brought a diaper and wipes over and asked when she needed her diaper changed." Rowan hadn't even noticed when I walked into the room, and didn't seem to care. She was too busy playing.
All this changes when she's not feeling well. Whether it's teething or a cold or a combination of the two (like now), she only wants to be with me. On top of me. All. The. Time. She refuses to eat, refuses to sleep, and panics when I close the door to use the bathroom. My shoulders are streaked with snot, and I have a 25 1/2 pound barnacle cemented to my torso.
Yesterday, she was in full sick-mode. Up in the night, with a refusal to sleep again unless Mom or Dad slept with her (I took the night before, Dr. B took that night). She was coughing, sneezing, and her upper lip had become Rio del Snotto. We raised the legs of the crib (Harry Potter 4 & 7), turned on the vaporizer, and gave her a little Motrin before bed.
I'm afraid our remedies worked too well. Yesterday, she was awake for 14 hours straight. No naps except for a 10 minute snooze in the stroller on our walk. Though she would stop and sit on the couch for a while, drinking juice, that was the extent of her rest.
Bedtime came, and I got her ready. She called out a cheerful "Bye!" as I left, blowing kisses.
Then it started. Screaming. Crying. Wailing.
For the next hour, I let her go. Then gave in and went to talk with her. Then let her cry. Then her dad came home and tried, too. And then he left her room and it started again.
Finally, after an hour and a half, I did what I had to. I went up, and she begged me to pick her up. I hugged her as she stood, arms raised in her crib, and let her cry on my shoulders. But I didn't pick her up. I tried to reason with her.
It didn't work.
Finally, I asked her to sit. She refused. I sat next to the crib. She sat, so she could see my face, and reached through the bars of the crib for another hug. Then she put her hands on either side of my face, and pulled me close for a jailbird kiss.
We sat, and I talked to her in a low, soothing voice. About letting her body heal. About resting so she can play and have fun tomorrow. About how much I loved her.
Her eyes started to droop.
I asked her to lie down. She shook her head, violently, "No no no no nooooo!!!" I offered my arm for her to lie on.
She face planted on my hand, butt in the air. I slowly wiggled my arm out. She grasped my hand.
I waited. Soon, she was twitching, exhausted and deeply asleep. I extracted my fingers from her sweaty grip and crawled slowly toward the door.
Though she may not show it every day, our independent little girl needs us. It may be hidden, but it's still strong.