Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Separation Anxiety

Any parent (or pet owner for that matter) knows how hard it is to leave your baby with someone else.  That first time when you leave your first born with a grandparent to grab a (quick) dinner or run an errand is an intense mixture of anxiety and freedom.  Being an overly sensitive and emotional person, I struggle with this.  The first time happened when we left Ollie (our 6 year old black lab mix) at a doggy daycare while we were on vacation.  We got back in the car after leaving him and I cried like a baby.  What if they weren’t nice to him?  What if he thought we weren’t coming back for him?  I definitely left a piece of my heart in that kennel.  Fast forward to the first time leaving Aiden.  It happened randomly – my mother in law was over helping out and she suggested Andrew and I go out to dinner.  We hesitantly agreed, after all he was only a couple weeks old.  We went to a restaurant two minutes from our house, left our cell phones on the table and tried to relax and enjoy our time to ourselves.  We’ve definitely gotten better at this, but it’s still a challenge.

Our baby boy napping on his first St. Patrick's Day.

Recently, two events have brought this anxiety to the forefront in our house.  As a part of my recovery and our family’s road to good healthy and fitness, we have been visiting our gym a lot more.  I’ve mentioned this before and also how they have a childcare.  We have always hoped to take our kids here so that we can have time to work out and they can socialize and have fun away from us.  I’ve also alluded to how this has been a MAJOR struggle for Aiden.  He cries the entire time he is in there with no sign of improvement yet.  I felt better yesterday when the (very nice and patient) lady told me his behavior was normal and he definitely wasn’t the only kid like this.  She said to keep bringing him, it would get better.  That is what we will do, but his anxiety of course causes major anxiety for us.  That dichotomy of feelings becomes apparent when I am desperate for time for myself to focus on my health, while also wanting to hold him close and ensure he knows I will always come back for him.  I pray that this gets easier for all of us; I have to be confident that it will.

About a week ago, Aiden decided he wanted to sleep in his own bed.  This is a big deal, as we have been trying to get him to do this for about 20 months of his 25-month life.  One night before we read our books, he said, “Night night, Aiden’s bed!”  Well okay buddy!  Sure enough, after we read he laid down, I laid down next to him and he fell asleep.  He’s been doing this since with only a couple of times spent back in our bed.  That familiar mixture of feelings came back.  Thrilled and proud while also sad that we wouldn’t have our little cuddler anymore.  As much as we’ve complained about Aiden’s sleeping habits, there is definitely a part of us that misses him even while he’s right across the hall.  Of course I want my son to grow up independent and confident, but it is a new feeling to have him not need me anymore, even in the smallest way.  God willing, he will continue to need me less and less as he learns to dress himself, tie his shoes, play a sport, go to school, drive a car…I’ll stop there, my anxiety is starting to flare up.  I know I am not the first parent to feel this way, but it feels so unique when it’s your baby.  Thanks to experience, though, I know I’ll be able to handle it.  When I see him in the morning and tell him how proud I am of him, I can see his self-esteem being created and the confident little boy he will grow in to.  Pride has to trump anxiety and I have to let him grow, we will be learning how to do this together.

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