Thursday, October 23, 2008

Separation Anxiety

As seen in Anniston Gadsden Christian Family Magazine
May 08

As a little girl, I was a romantic. I dreamed of my prince: handsome, charming, a man who would hang on my every word.

As my mama says, “Careful what you wish for, missy.” I got a man who hangs on my every word. The man of whom I speak isn’t exactly the man of my childhood dreams, but he is a prince. He’s handsome and quite charming, even though he’s short, nearly toothless, and has atrocious table manners. Nor is he satisfied with merely hanging on my words, he also hangs on to my shirt, my hair, and my legs.
The boy is altogether sociable. At ten months, he will smile and let most anyone hold him, briefly. Then he wants “Mummee”. He’s even clingier when he’s been with one of his grandmothers all day or overnight. After that, he really doesn’t want me out of his sight for a minute.

It isn’t so much my leaving him, when I occasionally do, with his grandparents. It’s when I return that he’s distressed. I believe he’s smart enough to be suspicious that I may leave him again. At least that’s how it seems.
The weird thing is, as much as it’s a pain when I’m taking a shower and he’s whining in his Exersaucer just outside the curtain, most of the time I feel kind-of happy about the way he wants me. My husband always told me that the dog liked him better, and, the dog did. I always countered that when we had a baby, the child would prefer me. Sure enough.

Obviously, Rafe loves his daddy, too. He often cries for him when he leaves for work in the mornings. He’s pretty partial to his grandparents and he adores his cousins! But at the end of the day, he wants Mommy. My mother says, “Well, he’s a breast baby,” as an explanation for it. I disagree. That may partially account for his clinginess, as does his age. But, I never really got over my own separation anxiety. I cried the entire trip when I went away to college, and many days after that, missing my mom. I still see her as much as possible.
I remember when she went back to work after having stayed home with us from our births. I was just shy of starting kindergarten. I went to a daycare center near her office. Those first few days, I felt completely abandoned. Many of the other kids were picked up before me, and I remember sitting, watching for her. When my mother arrived, I ran to her and buried my face in her neck. The smell of her was my comfort. It wasn’t her perfume, which had long since faded by that time of day, it was simply her essence. When I hug my mother now, I still remember how I felt in those moments when she came to collect me.

I find it a little inconvenient at times, like when I’m trying to write, and I must stop and pick up Rafe. He stands next to my chair and clutches at me until I give him my attention. I’m sure my mother found my clinginess inconvenient, too, occasionally. But when I think about how I feel about her, even now, and when I consider how I was so completely calmed and reassured when she held me, I am so thankful that my boy wants his mommy. For I know, all too soon, he will wrestle his way out of my arms and my protection to be independent. I can only pray that he will forever find comfort when he clings to me.

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