Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mama's got separation anxiety

I have, a handful of times, left Marko with his dad. For a few hours. When he was two months old, I left him at home for one hour while I went two blocks away to get my hair cut. The whole time I clutched my phone in my hand waiting for a text saying he needed me so I could rush out the door with my hair half cut and love on my baby. But when I got home, he was sitting in his bouncer exactly where I'd left him, and John told me he hadn't noticed I was gone.

Since then, I've occasionally left him while I went shopping (he likes shopping, but doesn't care for the driving part) or to go to some brief event or other. Each time, Marko doesn't care a whole lot, and I fall all to pieces.

Now that he's a toddler, he does have some separation anxiety. Whether I'm the one who leaves, or Daddy is, he cries for awhile. John maintains he cries a bit longer when it's me. There isn't a huge difference, though, so I don't feel I'm neglecting him when I leave him with Daddy any more than John is neglecting him when he goes to work. He's still with a parent, he's pretty happy, no biggie.

Last weekend I agreed to go to a Christmas party (the same one I went to last year and had so many adventures on the way). It was going to be quite a drive now that we live so far out. But I said I would go, because I had a good time last year and wanted to see those people again.

But Marko was having a rough day. It had been busy and I'd already had to go shopping without him. When I told him I was going to leave to go to a party, he flipped. He was running around crying "No Mama go! No Mama leaving!" and quite disconsolate. I scooped him up onto my lap and just held him for a minute. He snuggled into me and I nuzzled his neck. (Mmm, so nice.) And all I could think was, "Why the heck do I want to go anywhere but here? What possible fun could I have elsewhere to equal toddler snuggles?" But I had already promised to go.

Once he was calm, I got him reading a story with Daddy and left the house. When I shut the door behind me, he started wailing again. My heart broke into two big pieces. I couldn't even walk away. So I stood there listening to the crying through the door for about a minute, and then I heard him quiet down so I knew he was going to be okay. And I left.

The whole dang way there I was feeling incredibly mopey. All I wanted was my baby and my hubby. I tried to console myself with the thought that I had one baby I couldn't leave anywhere yet, but it wasn't good enough. I wanted our family to be together. I didn't want to go anywhere without all of us.

The party was fun, I guess. I felt all adult tromping around from my parking spot to the party in my nice clothes. But it just felt off to me. I don't see myself as a cool single woman. I am not sure I ever was one. Once I reached the party, I had fun talking to everyone, though it was weird being the only married woman or mom there. I told one woman my opinions on childbirth! Shows how out of touch I am with what single women are supposed to talk about.

After about an hour, I bailed. I told them I'd promised to leave at eight, and it was after eight. Someone said, "Aw, but this is your girl time! It's okay for Daddy to handle things!" That was the moment I felt the most out of place. Moms are supposed to like girl time, right? They want to get away for a little bit. They feel free when they leave their kids at home knowing that they are safe and happy. At least that's what everyone says!

I guess I'm just more domestic than I thought. I like being at home with my family. I love getting together with friends if my kid is invited too. But I just don't like being by myself anymore. I'm not sure when that happened.

This realization doesn't really disappoint me, though. I don't feel like I've "lost myself" or that I am missing out. (It helps that I have never in my life been cool.) I feel, instead, that I have adjusted to the way my life always is. I always have a kid in the carseat when I'm driving, and I prefer it that way. I don't think that's a bad thing.

What would have been a bad thing is if I had given in to my inclinations and scooped my sleeping child out of bed when I got home to nuzzle his neck. I was good and let him sleep. But at his first six a.m. peep, I leaped out of bed to go make sure he knew I was home. I think he'd forgotten I'd ever left. But I got some nice snuggles in while he was nice and sleepy.

Yeah, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But I don't think I'll do that again for awhile. I'll stick with snuggles and neck nuzzles instead!


Conquistadora said...

Should have come to our party. ;)

Sheila said...

I would have loved it, I'm sure. I just was too chicken to face four hours of total car time for a kid who falls asleep in the carseat and whose whole schedule is thrown off for days if he does. >sigh< He was easier as a newborn. By an order of magnitude. And he wouldn't have destroyed your apartment at that age, either.

But I confess I did feel jealous when I heard how much fun John had without me. It was, by all reports, a great party.

Anonymous said...

I can relate.

Son 1 used to stand in the window screaming for me not to leave everyday as I left for work. It didn't help that I *wanted* to stay home with him, and that I never really signed on for the long-term stay-at-home Dad option. I felt this as a loss -deeply- as I left to go to the office every day(and yes, I felt some resentment too).

I missed my son every minute I was at work. It was heartbreaking if I had to go on a business trip - something I used to enjoy.

It took 2 more sons and many more years before I could enjoy an evening out without the kids. Son 1was 4, almost 5, before I got there. Even now, I don't enjoy it for more than ~ 3 hours.

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