Separation Anxiety Goes Both Ways

My husband has been putting on the pressure like a 10-Ton elephant.  Leave the Buggy with grandparents while we enjoy a late night out and a late morning in.  I was pretty content with never spending a night away from my little guy – ever.  He wouldn’t have to live in a crappy dorm in college – he could be my roommate in a nice condo near campus.  (I hear the teenage years will cure me, but right now he’s too darn cute and too darn dependent for me to think of being apart for 4 years.)

I finally caved.  Friends from out of town made their way in town.  While my parents would gladly babysit at our house, we would be worrying about getting home early enough that they wouldn’t be up too late.  Staying out past 10 also means staying out past our normal bedtime yet still having to wake up with Buggy at 7 am.  With plans to vacation sans child by summer, why not try the separation early when we are in town and could rescue grandparents if it all went sour.

Leaving my 16-month-old with hubby is one thing.  Leaving him without either parent, whom he has spent a majority of his short life with, is a completely different issue.  I trust my parents 100%.  My dad has watched Buggy once per week since he was 8 weeks old.  My mom is a natural (obviously – she raised 3 of us and we are awesome).  While I had a few worries about Buggy not falling asleep well in a strange place, waking up in the night, waking WAY too early, and exhausting my parents completely – that wasn’t the main issue either.  The mere thought of being away from my child for 20 hours brought separation anxiety out the wazoo.  Thoughts of “bad mommy”, “neglectful mommy”, “selfish mommy” frequented my brain.

And what if he NOTICED that I wasn’t there for him.  What if it was bedtime and he had a hard time falling asleep because I wasn’t the one that kissed him and laid him in his crib?  What if it was the middle of the night and I wasn’t the one that came to hug and cuddle him back to sleep?  What if he’s too young to be away from me and it effects him in some way?  (Please don’t tell me if there is research to back up that fear…)

We dropped him off.  I was looking forward to the plans we had, but I was nervous about leaving him.  I had to take some deep breaths, wipe away a few tears, but all in all I was OK that night and the following morning.  We had a great time out!  Of course, Buggy did wonderfully and didn’t bat an eye lash.  Sunday afternoon was heavenly.  It was like the absence from his toys made them all new and exciting.  Buggy was happy playing on his own and occasionally coming to us for a pretend nibble on plastic broccoli, opening a toy or two, and reading a book.  Hubby mentioned the possibilities for next month… and for a moment I thought “probably”.

But there has been a bit of an aftermath.  Buggy has rarely ever cried when one of us has left the house, much less the room.  He is happy to go to bed.  Separation anxiety was preached in the parenting books, weekly baby emails, etc.  But it never made an appearance in our family – until this week.  He howls when we leave the room.  He fusses when dropped off at the sitter’s.  He screams, cries, sobs when laid in the crib.  While none of it lasts all that long, the fact that it is here when it once was not is a big deal to me.  Was I right with the “selfish, bad mommy” bit?  Maybe, maybe not.

Sorry honey, but I don’t think we’ll be having a night out on the town again for a while.  It’s too hard on me.

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2 Responses to Separation Anxiety Goes Both Ways

  1. John says:

    He’ll be alright. Start independence early. You forgot one part of Sunday afternoon that his favorite Uncle John came over to visit! (I did notice he fake cried when I was leaving though.) Keep up the good work, Mom.

  2. i have all the strange rules of parenting to keep me from the “bad mommy” thoughts at bay. But an overnight once in awhile is worth it! Sleeping in? AWESOME!

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