My daughter assigns a “snuggly”, one of the many stuffed animals that line her bed, to me and one to my husband as I leave her room after bedtime stories. This is the child that never had any kind of “lovey” or attachment as a baby. She never took a pacifier or sucked her fingers and in general, did not seem to need any kind of external soothing. Of course, as a first time mother, I was very proud of my child’s seemed inner peace. A friend once told me that it was because I breastfed my daughter that she did not need these things. This would be a lovely thing to believe because it implies that we are solely responsible for every behavior and feeling our child exhibits. However, I quickly learned, my friend’s explanation was false.
There is an ever-changing list of things I learn, un-learn and re-learn each day, month and year having children. Regarding inner peace, it seems clear that whether you have a “snuggly” or “lovey” has absolutely nothing to do it. My son is also breastfed but found his fingers early on and they helped him soothe himself. After a couple of months, he found that he really likes his small, square, silky on one side, soft on the other blanket. He loves it so much that every time he goes down for a sleep, he grabs it immediately, rubs his little face with it and then falls asleep with it over the top of his face. While I panicked the first few times he covered his face to go to sleep and would remove it, he just kept putting it back and I now know that he will not suffocate because he is totally in control of his lovey.
Inner peace is something I strive for and while I feel that I am a very self-aware person, I use rational and logical thoughts, therapy, exercise, yoga, meditation, wine, etc. as a means to try to achieve this state of being. However, it has been brought to my attention, that a soft, snuggly/lovey may be all I need for self-soothing! On one particular night, the little snuggly assigned is the sheep for me and bunny for my husband. We make sure they are on our bed because my daughter will fully expect us to be snuggling with them when she comes to get us in the morning and will be appalled if this is not the case. As I get into bed at the end of the day to read and go to sleep, I find myself eyeing the little sheep. I put my book down, turn off the light and roll over to go to sleep. In the middle of the night when I come back to bed after getting up with my son, I am half asleep and less aware of what I’m doing. I grab the little sheep and snuggle him tight and fall right back to sleep.
When I woke again and realized how the little guy had soothed me back to sleep, I chuckled a little inside and snuggled him tighter. Turns out, there is something to sleeping with a snuggly and/or having a lovey; just holding that small and cute little sheep made me feel cozy and secure. This feeling is not something a mere pillow could offer. It must be due in part to my anthropomorphic tendencies but also because I could grab his little arms and legs; perhaps this particular snuggly is more ergonomic than a pillow? Okay, yes, now I’m stretching the envelope a bit. One could argue that your significant other should be your snuggly. In our case though, we snuggle when we want to snuggle, but when we sleep, we want our space.
While attachments to various material items may not be something I want to encourage in my children as they grow older, I now understand that if they, and we, can find a sense of comfort and inner peace by something simple like snuggling with a stuffed sheep or a soft piece of blanket, then so be it. There are so many things to learn and many hard lessons to trudge through in life. I want my children to tap into their inner peace and calm in any healthy way they can find to do so. The love we express to them is to be their guide. When they are on their own, I hope they will use love and wisdom to help them make decisions. In the words of the ever wise Beatles, I like to always believe that” all you need is love”….and possibly, a lovey.