Some children say goodbye and hop right into the classroom without a backwards glance. Others have a hard time leaving the protective arms of the parent. Sometimes, it’s the parent who has a hard time letting go.
My daughter Collyns has a touch of separation anxiety. We decided to leave her first in-home daycare when she was almost three and tried a new center. After a month of her tears and screaming, “I don’t want to go” during every drop off, we decided to try the same in-home daycare my son went to after school. There, she cried for a couple days, but we thought perhaps her separation anxiety would improve come preschool.
However, that was wishful thinking. This morning, I left my 4-year-old sobbing in the arms of her Pre-K teacher. As I turned to leave, the sight of her little face crumbling and trying to be brave, but not quite managing, tore right to my core. It felt unnatural to leave when she was crying out my name.
Her teacher assured me that within moments of me being out of sight, Collyns laughs and plays with her friends and doesn’t give me another thought. At the end of the day, she reassures me she loves it!
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for myself. The image of her tearful face sits heavy on my heart hours after drop-off, and I can’t shake the horrible feeling that I’m not where I should be, that I let her down.
Seeing the Bigger Picture
The truth is, we simply cannot be with our children all the time. We need to work, exercise, see friends, spend time alone with our partners, and occasionally connect with who we were before becoming parents.
As for our children, they need to learn who they are without us. They need to be allowed to experience and overcome their fears in a safe environment and to learn resilience from adversity.
We’re doing as much for them by handing their care over to someone else for a few hours a day as we are in the other parts of our parenting duties.
As mentioned in my previous blogs, my daughter sleeps in our bedroom on the floor. Recently, she mentioned she wants to sleep in her room on the floor, but she won’t do this unless mommy sleeps next to her. My husband’s convinced that she’ll not only be sleeping in her room by herself before kindergarten, but also that she’ll be asleep by a decent time.
However, Collyns takes naps at preschool, and still she wakes up teary-eyed and wants her mom. That’s perhaps why she doesn’t want to go to bed until after 10 p.m.; she’s not tired and waits for me to go to bed with her. She’s stubborn and throws a tantrum – and I give in.
Yet, I always remember: as with all things motherhood, it won’t be like this forever.
Accepting the Growing Pains
My son Cohen always left for preschool and never said goodbye. Now, he requests that I don’t walk him to the door of the school, and before I know it he’ll want to walk to school instead of me driving him.
So for now, I accept the stress that comes with Collyns’ separation anxiety.
I accept the exhaustion and the sleeping bag that’s next to my bed and the forceful extraction of little arms from around my knees.
I accept the guilt, the worry and the heaviness of my empty arms, and the lump in my throat as I walk away.
I accept all of these gifts gladly. My husband, however, believes in tough love. He wants his alone time and thinks she does it because she knows that mommy will give in. But it’s not his name she cries out. She has me wrapped around her finger, and if I don’t stop this soon, it could turn into something bigger. But…
I allow it to happen because I know that it won’t be like this forever.
Babies & Toddlers
In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!