When you hear about separation anxiety you often imagine a young child crying for his or her mother the minute they are dropped off at school, when they realize that their mom or dad didn’t stay. They no longer feel safe. Cue panic and separation anxiety. Rarely does one envision separation anxiety as a parent blubbering while their child is also blubbering. Or maybe it’s more common than I had realized? Either way, that was me today. A blubbering, ugly crying hot mess express mama bear.
A little backstory…my little guy Tristan, who you have all been introduced to in a different entry, has always been a very clingy, needy baby. I don’t mind putting it this way, because I always tell the truth. I despise when people sugarcoat things. Sometimes they’ll jump at you for being too real, too honest. Some people may view the truth as harsh. I can’t be friends with those people.
Some joked that it was because Tristan was a “Covid baby”, while I joked that it was because he was the only baby I successfully nursed and we were more connected. He is the kind of kid that is very affectionate and also loves to touch. In order to fall asleep he needs to be touching and rubbing my back and his hand is often found gripping my shirt while he sleeps, making it impossible for me to escape. Yes, I baby him by letting him sleep with me. I was always envious of people who told their babies that it was nap time, set them down in their cribs “drowsy but awake”, dimmed the lights and left the room. My kids always needed me to either rock them or lay next to them and sneak out. Sneaking out definitely perpetuates the child’s anxiety. I don’t recommend starting this. I did the best I could and never wanted my kids to cry. So I coddled them when it came to sleeping.
Back to me being a blubbering mess…Today was Tristan’s third day of school. He had cried a little bit the first two times but the teachers warmly assured me it was normal for his age. However, I noticed since that he started school, he was becoming even more clingy at home. I didn’t think it was possible! He would climb back into the womb if he could. He has been saying that he wants to stay with mommy all the time, demanding to be carried all day, screaming when I leave the room, and the list goes on. Classic separation anxiety. I was needing a break more than ever. Especially since I don’t get them at nighttime. I knew school would be good for him. I knew he needed to be around other adults and kids. I. Knew. All. Of. This. So why did I cry like a fool when I handed him over to the teacher? My eyes welled up with tears and then the heaving started. I was feeling just as badly as him, maybe worse. He was screaming for me to come rescue him while his little arms were outstretched looking at me with his eyes full of betrayal. I asked the teacher if I should go and she said yes. I cried all the way back to my car, passing parents on the way. Mortified. Nobody told me that separation anxiety was a mom problem, too! I always thought the moms who said they cried when their kids finally went off to kindergarten we’re saying it to be cute and funny. But now I know! They really cried! I didn’t realize how hard this would be for Tristan and I definitely had no clue how hard giving him up for two hours would be! I always would joke with my friends that someone needed to take “this kid” because “mama needed a minute”. The people that know me best know that I play around 24/7. Some people don’t get me. They don’t get my humor and that’s fine. As much as I joked about needing a break from Tristan, I didn’t realize that when I finally did get a break, I would be temporarily heartbroken. When I picked him up from school, he was happy and smiling. He ran to me and said, “Mommy, Chi (his nickname) had fun at school.” My heart was bursting! I said, “Of course you did, bud! I’m so proud of you!” What I really wanted to tell him and to tell myself, was that I was proud of both of us. We did it, buddy. We did it.