I like to think of myself as an accomplished woman with lots of fulfilling professional and personal relationships. My now-toddler, by contrast, appears to think of me as his own personal milk-and-cuddles machine. That would explain the look of utter surprise, followed by serious irritation, when my baby sees me kiss my partner. He was not on board with this at all, and like any strong-willed person, he made his displeasure known. At around six or seven months of age, my son would swat at my husband if he tried to touch or kiss me while my son was nursing. By ten months or so, my son would throw a full-on stiff-arm my husband’s way any time he'd try to hug me if he were in my arms, actively pushing us apart. Sorry, Daddy, but you seem not to understand life on Planet Baby. You hug me, or Mama hugs me. Everybody hugs me. Nobody hugs each other.
I can't say I blame my son for being a little confused. He was (still is) pretty new around here, and based on his limited data points I could see how he came to the conclusion that my affection only belonged to him. We spend most of our time together, and he definitely gets the lion's share of my affection during our overlapping waking hours. Because he used to sleep much more often (however erratic), and I typically only had time to be affectionate with my husband when he was sleeping, my relationship with my husband — independent of my son — is completely beyond his awareness. So, when he started spending more of his time being awake, and began seeing aspects of daily life in our home that had nothing to do with him, it definitely seemed to take him by surprise.
Recently, though, he has started to warm up to the idea that the larger humans in his life can have relationships with each other, and that mama can be affectionate with many of the "Not-Mama" people in the world, without threatening the overall amount of cuddles and other attention he receives. He has even started coming around to the idea of group hugs, but only when he initiates them. Babies can be a little possessive at times, but it's pretty funny to witness their thought process (and chubby-fisted defensive moves) when their number one is at risk of paying attention to someone who isn't them.
“Oh, Whoa, Hold Up!”
Wait, what? What kinda shenanigans is this? Mama shows affection to people who aren't me? Since when?!
“What Do You Think You're Doing?”
That's not what faces are for! Faces are for kissing and nuzzling the baby — me! Come back here and love on me!
“But Mama Is Mine”
Why does "Not-Mama" think they can just be all up in Mama’s face like that? And why is she letting this happen? Mama’s face exists to put kisses on my face, and fingers, and belly, and occasionally feet. What gives here?
“So You All You Have Relationships Separate From Me?”
Mama and "Not-Mama," how can you guys be doing things together that don't revolve around me? Does this happen often? What else are you keeping from me?
“But That's Impossible!”
Everything disappears when I can’t see them. So how can Mama and "Not-Mama" do and feel things that aren't about me? I don't buy it. This is weird.
“Uh, Hello, Eyes Over Here...”
Honestly, how can they even stand to be focused on something other than me right now? I'm always the one everyone looks at as soon as they come over, or whenever we go out anywhere. This whole I'm-not-the-center-of-attention thing feels really, really weird. Does everyone else feel as weird about this as I do?
“Maybe They Need My Help?”
Oh no! Maybe they bumped into each other and don't know how to get un-bumped? Oh, poor Mama and "Not-Mama!" What would they do without me?
“Baby To The Rescue!”
I know, I can pull them apart. Or maybe push them apart. Wait, what? They're putting their faces back on each other's faces? Again? What is wrong with them? Don't they know I'm trying to help them fix this?
“So They're Doing This On Purpose?”
I pulled them apart, and they just laughed and went right back to their weird non-baby face-playing. Do they actually intend to be engaging in this odd behavior? How can this be?
“Pay Attention To Meeeeee”
“Alright, You Asked For It…”
I am trying to use all of my tools here, like my grabby hands, cute expressions, and adorable, small sounds that usually have a 100 percent success rate. I don't want to go nuclear here, but they're really leaving me very few options.
Sometimes you gotta go big to restore order in the world. I tried to warn them.
“Mama Is Mine”
Ahhhhhhh. Back in mama’s arms, finally. Sorry, "Not-Mama," but a baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do. Can't very well cuddle myself, now can I?