S he is so clingy.

She, with her chubby arms, flailing and thrashing, and begging wordlessly to pick her up.

She, with her blue eyes, so deep they almost look gray, pleading and yearning and wanting me in a way no one else does in the world.

She is barely eight months old, and suddenly, no one but Mommy will do. As soon as I enter a room, she raises her stubborn fists in my direction, berating me for my delay, infuriated that I have momentarily left her.

She is so clingy.

And I absolutely love it.

I don’t remember this clinginess with my other children, although I am sure it was there. Pretty standard eight-month-old behavior, this stranger-anxiety and Mommy-preference. The intensity of emotion that overtakes me, though, is unfamiliar; I don’t remember the fierce love that lights my heart when I see her eyes widen in pain, in hope, as she turns her body toward me.

Perhaps because it wasn’t, in fact, present with the others.

Perhaps because I worry that, due to medical reasons, there is a chance that this may be my last child.

That knowledge, that fear, is paralyzing, and is buried so deep I don’t often let myself stare it in the face. If I did, I would certainly crumble, piece by piece, the ugly truth too glaringly harsh for me to endure.

So I hold on to her clinginess with all my might, indulge in it, let it soothe my heart. How can a little eight-month-old hold so much power over me, fill me up until I feel I am about to burst from sheer joy, make me feel like a somebody in this vast, confusing world in which I so often feel like a nobody?

She is a balm to my old, cynical soul, and I wonder if that, too, is a problem. If my sense of worth is so tied up to a baby, what in fact does that say about me?

But I push those self-deprecating thoughts further down, down, down, because right now, all I am filled with is an utter sense of belonging, of feeling wanted, which brings me soaring up, higher than I ever thought possible. I know it will not last for long; as the months rush forward in a blur of leaves and snow and sunshine, she will begin to individuate, no longer wanting me, needing me with this ferocity. Her clinginess will be a thing of the past, gone with the disposal of old bottles and pacifiers and diapers. She will throw aside that clinginess, exchanging it for hard-earned independence, burying it under layers of toddlerhood, of nos, of insisting on doing things by herself, without Mommy’s aid. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 553)