Parenting: Separation Anxiety

11 mos sucking thumb by morethanexpat
11 mos sucking thumb by morethanexpat

 

I have re-entered the rat race. I am working again…but I have decided to try only working four days a week. Ironically, it does not feel like only four days a week. It is about all I can handle now. Once again I wonder how those mothers do it that work full-time. I work Monday through Thursday and, by Thursday morning, I feel the toll the week has taken on me as every bone in my body aches to crawl back under the covers when I begrudgingly turn off the singing alarm and my feet hit the cold hardwood floor. Usually on Wednesday and Thursday nights, it is all I can do not to run home and pick up E from daycare. I ache to have her in my arms and see her face smiling with recognition.

It should have come as no surprise then when E started showing signs of separation anxiety this Thursday. And her searing, hot fears seem directed wholly at me. To see her face light up and the world around her stop as she knows it every time her father walks in the room, I thought for sure she would feel separation anxiety from Papa too, but it does not seem to be as much so. Part of me is deeply relieved that E misses me as much or more than I miss her. It is a selfish thing and I really should know better, but what can I say? Poor E just cannot wrap her mind around it all yet, though.

E crawls after me when I exit the room, starting to whimper reflexively until it quickly escalates into a howl complete with huge tears. Last night, it reared its ugly head too. I think she woke up five times. We’d wake to disconsolate screams of pain. When my husband or I would pick her up, she immediately stopped. To further frustrate us, E would seem to want to start to play. I would sway her and pat her back. Her head quickly thudded against my breastbone, her thumb found her mouth, her eyes closed, and her breathing quieted. The minute I laid her down, though, she’d begin howling. Eventually, she would get herself to sleep until the next bout.

My first inclination is to sleep with her body cradled against my chest, but my husband assures me that will only start an unshakeable habit. I was ready to rock her to sleep in the glider in her bedroom and probably would have accidentally had I not forgotten to put on a sweatshirt as I rushed from my dreams to take my turn tending to E’s crying across the hall.

It feels a little overwhelming to have signed on to be this little person’s home base for the rest of my life, but more than that I love to feel so needed. And, at the end of a particularly stressful or mind numbing day, E and my husband are that comfort for me.

As I am patting her back and lulling myself to sleep as I stand with E in my arms swaying from side to side, I remember my twin sister saying that she wishes for the days when her son (now six years old) would cuddle. E melts into my body as she sinks back to sleep. I read somewhere that separation anxiety can last until a child is two years old. My first reaction to reading this was to dread all the long nights I had before me. My second thought was that I only had one more year of E’s late night cuddling so I better enjoy each one.

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One thought on “Parenting: Separation Anxiety

  1. I remember it like it was yesterday. On my first day back to work I had mixed emotions. E will learn to cope better with her seperation from you over time. You might enjoy the book CHASE(Children Having Anxiety Symptoms Early and the Consequences They Sometimes Face), by Vivian Sharpe.

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