From the Mommy Files…

I’ll Be Back…Really, I Will!

Posted on: June 14, 2010

I promise. I am not running away from home. I’m not leaving you forever. I will be back shortly. Really, I will. I could never leave that precious face for good!

Moms, you’ve already guessed what I’m talking about – separation anxiety.

Bebs, now 15 months old, seems to have recently discovered separation anxiety, and it’s not pleasant. BooBoo had it much earlier, and getting a sitter for a few hours, one day a week, did the trick for her. It took about a month, but she learned it was OK to be away from Mom for a little while and I haven’t have any problems since. Bebs, well, she’s her own person.

I have always been her primary caregiver (I work part-time from home too, so I haven’t had to leave home on a regular basis), therefore, I started having a babysitter come last fall – using the same approach I used with Boo – and Bebs had some difficulty in the beginning, but did fine. The babysitter didn’t come for a couple of months, and when we have occasionally gone out in the evening, we usually went after she’d gone to bed. Perhaps stopping the sitter was a mistake, and I caused the step backwards. Who knows.

A few times, Bebs didn’t even want Daddy. One day I had to go to work-related event and she screamed for me the entire time. Come on, little one! You’re with your dad! Other times, she’s grabbed onto my leg, holding on for dear life. Hey! I can’t move when you do that! (I know that was the idea.) A trip to another part of the house is sometimes impossible.

A few weeks ago, we went to the health club, and I left Bebs in the kid room. I was gone just under an hour and she did great. Awesome! I thought. The following week we went again, and she did OK for ½ hour, and then wailed for the last 15 minutes that I was gone. What?! Was that first time a fluke?

Last week, we had the babysitter come again. Bebs did OK. The next day we tried the health club again, and this time with Boo. I thought she’d be OK with her big sister there. Well, nope. I was gone 45 minutes and she screamed the entire time. The caregiver thought maybe there were too many other kids (there were 3) and she didn’t know them and too much was going on. She kept calling for Mommy. As soon as she saw me she was fine.

It’s getting a little frustrating. A lot frustrating! I thought by now she’d be over this. She is getting better being left with Daddy, though some days it seems like I can’t even go to the bathroom alone. I find myself announcing to her that I am going to the potty and tell she can come with if she wants. Crazy! Who wants/needs to know when I’m going potty? Sometimes she follows, and either pulls on me or wants me to hold her while I’m taking care of my business. I feel like a circus performer!

You’ve been there too. You might still be there. It’s one of those things you know will pass, but while it’s happening, you can just about lose your mind. We’ll get there. We have to keep telling ourselves that.

According to an article on BabyCenter.com, “Babies can show signs of separation anxiety as early as 6 or 7 months, but the crisis age for most babies is between 12 to 18 months.” So I guess we are smack dab in the middle of the crisis stage. Great! I can’t just wait for her to grow out of it, as some recommend, and I can’t take her with me everywhere. Somehow, she’s got to learn that it’s OK to be away from Mommy sometimes.

We’ve signed her up for a music and dance camp with her big sister, in the mornings for 3 weeks in July. I have my fingers crossed on this – Boo will be there, and Bebs knows the people running the camp, since it will take place at Boo’s dance school. Bebs and I hang out for an hour every week, while Boo is in class. I was hesitant to sign her up, but she has to learn that it’s OK to not be with Mommy every waking moment. There will be other kids there and lots of fun things to do. I love her dearly. I miss her, too, when I do leave her for short periods of time. Nonetheless, I want her to learn to be secure in herself and her abilities.

People tell me to just sneak out when she’s distracted, but it doesn’t feel right. Experts agree that you should say goodbye, but not linger, and not to cry either. I don’t cry and I always say goodbye.

Kidshealth.com has a good piece on separation anxiety as well, and they say some kids get it at about 2-1/2 years old. Yikes! If kids are older than that and have it, they caution that it’s a sign that something else is not right – they may begetting  bullied, it may be a poor match with a caregiver. They do tell you not to cancel your plans if your child freaks out, because they could purposely do this all the time to keep you around. They list some good tips, such as planning your exit after a nap and/or meal, so your child is not tired or hungry. They also say to be calm and consistent, and get the caregiver to continue to try to distract the child, until he or she finds something they are really interested in and then they forget that you’ve left. But always come back when you say you will. Start with short increments and slowly increase the time span.

And take a deep breath.

Remember, someday they will be teenagers and not want anything to do with us.

And take it as a compliment. You’re so wonderful, so lovable, and so good to your little one, that she prefers you over everyone else!

This too shall pass.

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3 Responses to "I’ll Be Back…Really, I Will!"

Hello! I’m new to the blog world and came across your blog while searching for blogs on motherhood. 🙂 I’ve enjoyed reading your posts! I have a four month old daughter and after reading some of your posts, I feel excited (and maybe a little more prepared) for the next couple of years with her 🙂 Thank you for your posts!

Thanks for stopping by. Congrats on your bundle of joy. It’s a pretty amazing experience, isn’t it? It’s the toughest job in the world, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute. Hope to chat with you again soon.

Yes this stage is very hard on all!

I think you are doing the right thing, a little at a time. I know I always worry about damaging her.

Motherhood is truly the hardest job, but the best reward

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