"Can you hold her for a second while I grab some things out of the car?"
I pass the baby over to my friend, and instantly, you can see the change: the baby's little face falls, her lower lip starts to tremble, and she lets out a huge "WAAAHHH!!!"
At 10 months old, she's going through one of those phases where she's distrustful of strangers—even people she's spent quite a bit of time with. She'll just about tolerate it if I'm around, but the moment I'm out of sight, she makes it plain that she is NOT happy with the arrangement and I should get back there RIGHT THIS SECOND!
It's natural that she should want me around...after all, she started out in life literally attached to me. And the truth is, it's nice to feel needed. To know that, in her eyes, no one else in the world could replace me.
But that's what parenting is really about: giving our children the skills they need to be independent. Helping them to separate themselves from us.
The baby is crawling and cruising now, moving around the house and getting into all kinds of trouble. She's so proud of her new abilities. It won't be long before she's walking—and the faster she learns to walk, the faster she'll learn to walk away from me.
I'm sure her separation anxiety is a phase that she'll soon get over. Like her older sister, she'll become more confident and independent...often irritatingly and unstoppably so.
But what about mine?
I worry about what will happen to my children when they inevitably leave to make their way in this wide, wonderful, wearisome world. And I worry that, as they grow up, we'll somehow grow apart.
So for now, I'll enjoy being loved and wanted and needed. Because one day, they may not need me as much.