The accidental lovey
[This is the story that I wrote for my mothers club's newsletter. It was printed in the September 2005 issue.]
The accidental lovey
As a new mom I learned about lovies from a friend. From the early days of her son's life, this mom made sure to keep a small square of soft cloth with her baby at all times, especially if they were going somewhere outside their home. She told me the cloth was a lovey and that if she kept it with her child he eventually would form a comforting bond with it. When he found himself in unfamiliar situations as he went from the world of babyhood into the world of toddlerhood and beyond, his lovey would be there to keep him company and make him feel safe.
I'm pretty sure I nodded understandingly to my friend and smirked inside. That's silly! I thought. I decided then and there that I wouldn't fall for this lovey thing, which I suspected was a gimmick devised by toy companies to get us gullible new moms to buy yet another must-have product.
My friend is the one laughing now.
How I wish I could go back in time to the days when I may have had control over what object my child chose to love. Because instead of a small, easily manageable and easily cleanable square of cloth, my child grew attached to a bear, a great big furry stuffed bear.
It all started when a well-meaning relative gave six-month-old Emily a bear. I thought it was cute; Emily ignored it. I liked how the bear looked sitting on the nightstand next to her crib so that's where I put him. Fast forward to Emily's first birthday. At this point she was standing and bouncing in her crib and had figured out that if she leaned over far enough, she could grab that big bear by the arm and haul him into bed with her.
That's when they started sleeping together.
Now when I introduce Emily to new things, Bear (as we fondly call him) comes along. When Emily goes to the YMCA, so does Bear. When we travel by plane to visit grandma, Bear hogs the arm rest. I'm seriously considering getting Bear his own seat next time. Without a doubt, Bear is my third child -- my surprise child. When I'm dragging Bear to the YMCA and I have my two-year-old by the hand, my 8-month-old under one arm, and I'm clutching Bear by my free hand, I can only nod my head in agreement when I hear, "My, you've got your hands full!"
Take my advice, new moms: get one of those tiny and manageable lovies for your baby, and make sure your child is never without that thing. If you don't, your clever offspring will find his own item to love and I can only hope that you don't have family members as generous as mine. If you do have family members as generous as mine, definitely make sure you populate your child's room with only small stuffed animals. You won't regret it when you can keep your third child in your diaper bag rather than in its own car seat.
Despite the inconvenience of lugging around a gargantuan lovey, I understand that I am the one comforted when I look in on Emily sleeping in her big girl bed and see that she has one arm around her large furry protector. I wonder if Bear will one day grace the bed in my daughter's dorm room. Or if he will be left behind, a no-longer needed relic of childhood reminding me of these crazy days when it sometimes feels that instead of two children I have three: Emily, Thomas, and Bear. Maybe that's when I'll start bringing Bear to bed with me. After all, I wouldn't want him to be lonely.