I don’t mean recent blog-less days when I was disconnected from everyone—and everything—online. And I don’t mean Daniel’s trip to Buenos Aires (3 days down, 5 months to go…..not that I’m counting.) My separation issues go way deeper…and way back.
Back to the beginning…..when parenting experts inform you that separation anxiety is a big issue for children during early childhood. I read all the right books. But the books don’t mention that separation anxiety could be an even bigger issue for me.
It took a couple months before I would venture away from my newborn daughter. And that was done under pressure from my husband—who suspected he might never peel me away alone ever again.
H dragged took me out to lunch and we left Alli with a very sweet older woman we knew, a grandmotherly type who had volunteered to babysit. This was of course in the dark ages before I had a pager or a cell phone. Naturally, I called home the minute I could get to a phone, which was the minute I got to the restaurant.
Was I a little anxious? Let’ s just say I never digested the meal. Because I never ate it .
When there was no answer after repeated calls, we rushed home so I could rescue Alli from this grandmother/terrorist. And sure enough, we caught her in the act—of rocking Alli to sleep outside on the patio where she couldn’t hear the phone ringing off the hook.
Immersion parenting—and other phrases describing parenting styles—don’t quite describe what I experienced when I became a mother. For me separation anxiety was real and relentless.
So maybe it was a little extreme. It wasn’t my fault. I learned that my separation anxiety could be traced to—and caused by—the early death of my mother. Although not everyone who loses a mother will react in such an extreme way.
It also turns out there’s something else they don’t mention in those early childhood parenting books—Separation , Act II.
It’s a normal and necessary part of growing up—both for kids and for parents. I’m not an expert, but from what I know, phase two—- separation and independence— can be far more complicated and challenging than your kid having a meltdown on the pre-school playground. That psychological baggage can weigh heavily and painfully—on both sides.
Since separation anxiety was so traumatic for me in the early years, you’d assume I’d be a basket case when my kids fly away from the nest. Everyone figures that Argentina is so far away, I’ll fall apart.
I think maybe I used up my allotment of tears and fears when I faced the ultimate separation anxiety. Though there’s no cure for cancer, for me cancer was a curious cure for separation anxiety.
These days, though I still have my moments, I”ve flipped—–from less separation and more anxiety—-to more separation and less anxiety.
Even with this latest and longest separation—in time and distance—I’m out of character—and oddly at ease. Almost like a normally neurotic Jewish mother.
Then again, I’ve already got my ticket to Buenos Aires.