I read something a while back that touched me so deeply that I know I’ll never forget it. It was an article on separation anxiety and the author explained that this happens in babies around 6 months old because before that they have no idea that we, their mothers, are separate beings from them. Before 6 months they think we’re actually physically connected and only begin to realize this is not the case at around 6 months when they begin to experience anxiety. I clutched my heart when I read this. Have you ever read anything sweeter? Our babies think we’re actually connected. I love that.
Their anxiety stems from the realization that we’re in fact not attached and the fear that we will leave them due to this physical separation. I totally understand and wish that a book was written on separation anxiety from the position of a parent.
I love my days (read: couple hours) to myself where I can shop at my leisure without the siren of a crying baby urging me to hurry up. I like reading my books, going on my walks, hanging out with my friends…all these things are necessary for me to recharge my emotional battery but the thought of my daughter leaving, whether it be for something as brief as a sleepover or something more lengthy and substantial like school, leaves me a ball of nerves. I don’t know how I’ll ever begin to let go. So enough about this separation anxiety at 6 months; what about separation anxiety for a 30 year old mom? At least all the books assure me that she’ll grow out of it, but will I?
While I was pregnant I was a calm individual looking forward to greeting the warm cuddly love that was growing deep within. The second I gave birth I became something I didn’t recognize and like every mom, I was completely surprised by the overwhelming attachment I had to these 10 tiny fingers and toes – and every soft roll in between.
I was born with a birthmark on my arm and quickly noticed that my daughter had no birthmarks or beauty marks. She was as perfect as a rose which struck panic in me because that meant that she had no identifiers on her. Well my husband got quite the workout as I forced him to follow every doctor and nurse that took her for a test for the next 3 days.
Fast forward nearly 3 years and I’m able to laugh at how ridiculous my thoughts used to be but also worry about what ludicrous thoughts the future holds. So in order to help ease myself into the idea of my daughter being without me, I’ve done a little research and compiled a small list of what we can all do when we find ourselves in the inevitable situation of our child being without us:
1. STAY BUSY: Remember how important it is to fill your days and don’t allow yourself to mope around the house.
2. GET SUPPORT: Now isn’t the time to be around those who will say, ‘Wow, you let your child go to camp? I’d never let my son do that!’ Lean on parents who will understand and empathize.
3. THIS TOO SHALL PASS: Every milestone comes with it own stressors (and ultimately, benefits). Remember that you’ve overcome every hurdle so far and this is just another one to leap over.
Lena Hassan lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a loving mother to one.