First, a disclaimer: If you’re averse to discussions about poop, stop reading right now.
If you’re still reading, it means you’re a parent, and you know how much time you spend considering the question of poop. That’s right: poop becomes a question. As in: When did she last…? What was the consistency? Etc., etc.
I am going somewhere with this.
When your little one has the type of issues that used to seem unmentionable in polite company, you also know how upsetting it can be for both you and her. Because gastrointestinal distress is not a type of distress you can really alleviate, and the thing you want most in the world is to alleviate her distress.
I still remember a time six months ago when my daughter was beet-faced and screaming for what felt like an hour (though it was probably maybe fifteen minutes.) There was nothing I could do for her, really, except hold her. And I threw myself into that. I held her and infused that with as much love as I could.
I felt helpless. I felt like a failure, even. Should I not have weaned her from breast milk to formula? Was her pain actually my fault?
So I held on, and that began to relax her, and at some point, after an experience that seemed like she was birthing a baby herself, she went limp in my arms. She’d relaxed and released.
It was all over but for the diaper change. And the lingering realization that my daughter could let go more completely in my arms than anywhere else, that I represent that kind of safety–it’s the strangest but deeply fulfilling validation ever.
It’s peculiar, I suppose, recalling another person’s bowel movement with fondness. With love, even. (I think it’s less peculiar than recalling your own, however.) But the point I’m making is that the relaxation and the release–that’s what a secure attachment really is.
I represent safety and security, and I hope that I always will. Not that I want to hold a 16-year-old in my arms while she, you know.
But I hope that some age appropriate version of that will continue to exist for my daughter and me. That she’ll always feel engulfed in love when she’s in my arms.
Baby in diaper photo available from Shutterstock
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Last reviewed: 20 Feb 2013