For some of us separation anxiety hits pretty hard, for others it can be easier. It can also affect our children when we leave them. The first time with a babysitter, at school or daycare, even just quick trips to the store can be difficult for us and them.
The moment my daughter was born was amazing. Then I realized that now that she was out in the world, I was terrified. When they took her for the usual newborn bath and tests, she was only across the room but I was a nervous wreck. It felt like she was so far away and I was absolutely helpless.
After bringing her home, this feeling didn’t go away. She was 2 weeks old before I even let her out of my sight for more than a few minutes. My first trip to the grocery store without her was pretty hard for me. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who understands (or at least humors me). He sent me a picture of her sleeping happily along with several text messages of support. I know to some of you this may sound crazy, but to me it was pretty intense.
The older she got, the easier it was for me. I was able to have my sister-in-law or my mother watch her so that we could go out. The first “date night” my husband and I had was really hard for me though. I saw a baby in the restaurant and wanted to cry, but managed to hold it together. Once we got home and saw that she was just fine and happy I felt much better. I was in no rush to repeat this, but knew that she would be ok when I did.
I’m lucky to have a husband who is so supportive and understanding. He is great with our kids and, except for the first time, I have never worried about leaving them with him. He has always encouraged me to go out and have some time to myself. In the past I was reluctant to do so, but I have recently been starting to enjoy some freedom from being “Mommy” and just be “Bethany” for a bit.
The longer I have been a mom, the easier it gets for me. Though I still struggle with the anxiety, I’m much better now. I realize that my children will one day grow up and leave “the nest”, but this mama bird is in no hurry.
My story comes from the opposite end of the spectrum to Bethany’s. I mean, yes, I absolutely adore my daughter and am grateful that I am lucky enough to be able to stay home with her. However, after having been able to go where ever, when ever for the majority of my life, suddenly being tethered to a little human day and night for the past three years...well, let’s just say it’s been a bit of an adjustment.
Which is why last weekend was so awesome. For me. And pretty much only me. Last weekend I went to a reunion of my high school marching band (Yeah, I said marching band - what of it?) in Arizona. I only stayed over one night, but in all honesty, I think that’s all my daughter and my poor, amazing husband could take.
From what I could tell, my little family was doing fine, until I called at around 6:00 p.m. BIG MISTAKE, MOM! The Meatball was laughing and playing and telling me all about her day, and then... she started to choke up. And that’s when all H-E-double hockey sticks broke loose. My husband hung up, only to call back a few minutes later (this happened at least five times) with my daughter, inconsolable, in the background.
Hearing my baby wailing for me, begging my husband to take her to the airport to pick me up was heart-wrenching, but, and here’s where I sound like the Most Horrible Mother Ever, I honestly think this little separation was good for her. Now don’t get me wrong, it broke my heart to hear her so upset, but, it made me think that perhaps waiting so long to leave her with someone else might not have been the best thing for her in the long run.
My husband and I have only ever left our daughter twice since she was born; both times were with a family member and both for no longer than two hours. I hear this is somewhat normal considering she’s our first, but it still really takes it’s toll on all parties involved, and I wonder if it didn’t make her too dependent on me, and therefore inhibit her ability to learn to be okay without me for short periods of time.
The lesson I learned in all this is that a little separation (for both the parent and the child) is a good thing. Mommy needs a break, daddy needs to learn that he can handle it, and baby to learn that they can and will survive without mommy. I also theorize that perhaps if I had started it earlier and more frequently both my daughter (and my husband) might have had more of a chance to adapt, and this departure may have been even slightly more successful. She still asks me if I’m going to be here tomorrow every time she goes to bed, which makes me sad, but it also gives me the opportunity to teach her that “mommies always come back.”
Separation can be difficult for both us moms and our kids. With lots of love, patience, and understanding we can come to realize that it is just a part of life. It may not be easy at times, but we can (and will) get though it.
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Up next week on The Mom Squad: Mommy Tips & Tricks