Imagine three babies in a room with their mothers around. They look happy, smiling even, like babies do when you leave them in the company of their favourite toys, their nappies dry, their stomaches fed, and their mothers around. On the surface, other than the level of their cuteness, there isn’t much difference between these three babies. They are oblivion to adulthood and sufferings of life. But these three babies are not the same. They are different in the way they are attached to their mothers.
When the mother of the first baby leaves the room the baby starts to cry, howling even, like babies do when you leave them alone feeling insecure. To a baby, the world revolves around her mother, and as long as she’s around the baby can be sure no one can do no harm to her. Much like how we feel around our romantic partners when we are deeply in love. When the mother of the first baby returns, the baby is still crying. She holds her in her arms, trying to pacify her by singing a lullaby, but the baby is still crying as if the baby is punishing the mother for leaving her behind. This type of attachment of the baby to her mother is called anxious attachment.
When the mother of the second baby leaves the room this baby too like the first one begins to cry like babies are supposed to. Having his favourite toys, his dry nappy, his full stomach means nothing to him if his mother is not around. When the mother of the second baby return, the baby on seeing her stops crying. He’s happy to have her back, she looks at her and smiles and he looks at her and chuckles like he’s telling her: mother, would you please take me with you when you go away from me next time? She holds him in her arms, and he plunges his head on her shoulder and closes his eyes. This type of attachment of the baby to his mother is called secure attachment.
When the mother of the third baby leaves the room the baby cannot care any less. He seems undisturbed by the fact that his universe has left him behind for the loo. He’s busy with his toys and as long as his nappy’s dry and his stomach’s full he doesn’t really need the life-giver. On the surface, he looks fine, but if you put instruments to measure his heart rate, you’ll find it elevated. He’s just trying to protect himself from the hurt. Like some of us do with our lovers, when they leave we learn to be cold. When the mother return, he doesn’t even look at her, he’s still busy in his own world. When the mother takes her in her arms, he smiles, his eyes telling nothing about the last five minutes when she wasn’t around to watch over her but the mother can feel his heartrate. He’s calm. This type of attachment of the baby to his mother is called avoidant attachment.
So, what kind of baby are you?