rogue

"I showered my first child with too much love. Now I have to accept I've raised a monster."

This week I had a confronting realisation: my first child is a monster and it’s all my fault.

You might think that admission is a little harsh, I used to too. But for anyone who knows my daughter, Maple, and I, this is a confession that has been a long time coming.

You see, when Maple came into my life, she was the apple of my eye. I was so in love. I was obsessed. How could something so adorable even exist? I finally understood what new parents felt when they looked into their baby’s eyes for the first time.

No expense was spared when it came to giving Maple the best possible start to life.

She began co-sleeping with me immediately as I cradled her in my arms until she went to sleep. When she wouldn’t eat, I would feed her with my hands. I bought her the most adorable clothes and began making childcare arrangements for when I returned to work and researching schools for the years to come.

But it was when I brought Maple into the office one day to meet my co-workers that I saw the beginnings of a problem. She didn’t like very many people. In fact, she didn’t like anyone at all, except for those she had met basically at birth. She definitely didn’t like men. She would cry and whimper when I wasn’t in close vicinity.

On seeing Maple and her attitude, some tried to warn me. They tried to tell me what I was doing wrong. That I’d given Maple too much. Too much time. Too much attention. Too much love. Too much everything. But I didn’t listen. This was my first child they were talking about. And nothing in the world could possibly be labelled as ‘too much’.

Her first birthday rolled around and there were celebrations. There was a party in the office. There was a birthday outfit. There were presents. There was not one but TWO cakes. We sang and we fussed over Maple. She was in everyone’s good graces again, for the time being.

Maple's first birthday cakes and presents. Image: Supplied.

Then a few weeks later when my childcare fell through, I had no choice but to bring Maple into the office everyday. And that's when shit hit the fan, quite literally. She did a poo in my boss' office. She cried all the way through a podcast recording. And she chased a courier down the length of the office.

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Maple was given a written warning. The only warning I had ever received during my entire employed adult life. Maple and I had words. I spoke to her about the impacts of her behaviour and how it affected those around her. I have to admit, she was a little better behaved after that. Embarrassed even. But still, it was too late.

When my boyfriend and I first started dating I had to have the 'Maple conversation'. I had to tell him that she was obsessed with me. That she needed a lot of my time and energy. That being with me was committing to my first born, too. And that she didn't like... men. He was however, accepting of the challenge and put in a lot of work to get Maple to like him. Love him, even.

It has been a big step for Maple and it gives me hope that maybe, one day, she can change. Yet she is almost two-years-old now and it was while lying on the couch with her last night that I realised what I had done. She was  in my arms, one of the few ways she will settle to sleep, with her comfort toy beside her. In that moment it finally dawned on me.

She is like this because of me. Needy. Attached. Unfriendly. Entitled.

This is how we'll have to live the rest of our lives, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't beginning to take it's toll on me and those around me. I used to ask myself if this was just nature. If Maple was just born like this. But deep down I knew I was denying the real answer. The shame associated with the fact that this is definitely nurture.

I was blind but now I can see. I created the monster that is Maple.

Now I have to live with it because it's too late to unpick. It's too late for her to unlearn all of the bad behaviour I ignored or excused because I was so enthralled with her.

If there's one silver lining, though, it's this. I'm lucky she's bloody cute.

 

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Maple is 2019 ready. ????: @ray.utatao ❤️

A post shared by Valentina Todoroska (@valentinatodoroska) on

Yes, Maple is an almost two-year-old miniature dachshund.

Did you show your first fur baby too much love? Tell us in the comments section below.

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