Separation anxiety

This month has been so medically insane (first my cold, then Charlie’s pneumonia and hospital stay, then over the weekend my wisdom tooth got infected and I had it removed on Tuesday) that I haven’t fleshed out nearly as many stories for the blog as I have jotted down. In fact, there were several little tales I was planning to tell today. I almost convinced myself to write about those instead of what happened yesterday. But I need to write about this. Even though I know that anyone who reads it will have their own ideas, maybe even not so nice ones, I must share honestly. Because that’s what I promised myself when I started this blog. (How else will I ever hear from others that maybe I’m not alone in all this parenting uncertainty?)

Yesterday morning, Treshia and Lisa (Charlie’s primary daycare teacher and his classroom’s head teacher, respectively) shared pictures of him playing on a wooden tricycle in the gym. (His face was aglow. I can’t wait until the walker and rocking horse that Santa left for him in Georgia make their way up here.) I love that the daycare teachers tell me stories about what Charlie has done in class. (I hang out at the center enough each day–for a while in the morning, an hour or so at lunch and then a while in the evening before we go home–that I get to hear all the dramatic details of Charlie’s day, as well as the drama of the other under-ones in his class.) We talked about his latest finger food exploits (he tried pasta with tomato sauce and loved it, but he’s still not putting food to fingers to mouth), his latest attempts to escape the playroom via crawling and his recent exponential growth in vocalization (he ‘bah bah bah’s on the train, in the playroom, in the playpen… you name it; a word will pop out soon, I’m sure). We talked about the good mood he’s been in this last week, now that he’s back on his schedule and getting out and about every day. And then Lisa mentioned the separation anxiety.

I know Charlie is at that stage. He’s begun to cry sometimes when I leave him at daycare, or cling to my legs for one more hug, or crawl as fast as he can to keep up with me as I head out the gate. But Lisa said Charlie now cries when Treshia leaves the room. Luckily, Treshia is a wonderful caregiver. (She even resorted to taking Charlie to lunch with her so he wouldn’t cry.) I love that Charlie cares so much for his teachers. In my mind, it means he’s getting good care. But I also couldn’t help feeling a little jealous. He doesn’t cry inconsolably when I leave the playroom. Granted, he knows that when I leave Treshia will be there to take care of him. When Treshia leaves, his two main adults are MIA. In no way do I want him to cry about anything, missing me included. It breaks my heart when he’s sad. But, I guess, if he has to cry over anyone, I’d like it to be me.

My first thought after hearing what Lisa had to say (because Jesse says I have a guilt/punishment complex) is that Charlie’s reaction is what I get for leaving him with someone else while I work. If I stayed home with him every day, I’d certainly be the only one he’d cry for–but he’d probably be crying for other reasons. I am not naturally a patient, self-sacrificing person. My biggest fear, upon learning that I was pregnant, was that I would not be able to hold back my anger and frustration when my baby inevitably did something I didn’t prefer. And while I adore spending time with CW, I also cherish my “break” at work. Those days of employment are a chance to wrap my mind around other puzzles and obligations. A chance to renew my intellectual and adult-focused energy so that when I am with him I have more compassion, more patience and less tendency to become frustrated and short-tempered. In all, my career has made me the parent I wasn’t sure I could ever be: one who is able to put Charlie first, even when I’m not with him.

So, if the price I have to pay for being a good mother is sharing him with other amazing women, then I’ll gladly pay it. After all, separation anxiety is just a phase, for both of us.

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One Response to “Separation anxiety”

  1. Niki Says:

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I always thought I wanted to be a stay at home mom… boy, was I wrong! Don’t misunderstand, I love Jonah and love spending time with him. However, I have a LOT more patience with him after a day’s work then I do when I have him all day. Of course, I am jealous that my mom, who keeps Jonah for me, got to see him roll over for the first time (which he still has not done for me!) and I am sure she will see the first step and hear the first word. But like you said…it is the price I am willing to pay to be a good mother!

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