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Separation anxiety all round

When I was a kid, I had bad separation anxiety. Real bad. I remember crying every morning when I was dropped off at school (even though I loved school) and feeling an actual ache in my chest when my mom wasn’t there. I’m now being revisited by karma as both my kids appear to feel the same way as I did…

School holidays! The words used to fill me with glee… now I’m incredulous that they are 6 weeks long at Christmas. 6 weeks!

The unfortunate side effect of this is that this week Arty is on holiday and I’m not. In fact, I have a large chunk of work to get through. I can do some juggling and take him on outings here and there (yesterday we went to the museum for the first time and it was such fun… what a rare treat to have one-on-one time with my precious boy). But then there are days like today: his best friend came over to play and I thought I could hide in the office and work while they played. Haha.

Let me say it again: haha. Because for some reason, both Arty and Ella are in a severe separation anxiety phase for me at the moment. As in: if they hear or see me, they start wailing. And I can’t just be in the same room, tinkering away at my computer while they play, they want me actively engaged.

Rewind to this morning and what resulted was an Arty who didn’t want to play with his bestie or his sister or our nanny and just wanted to be with me. But being with me while I work is boring, so he started acting up for attention, which pissed me off and made it impossible to work. So I decided to go out and work. Which started a terrible, awful, no-good spiral of him wailing and screaming, and me trying every trick in the book to make the situation better (being sweet and understanding, cuddles, time-out, shouting etc etc etc).

I eventually left so I could get some work done, and he calmed down right away. Which means, essentially, that I’m caught in the spider’s web of my son loving me so much he doesn’t want us to be apart, but my presence making him sad unless I can give him full attention.

Glory be!

I realised, as I was beating a hasty exit from the maelstrom of emotion that was my house this morning, that I don’t think toddler is my best parenting phase. He is so unbelievably cute and I see flashes of the child he is becoming (like all of yesterday morning, holding hands as we walked round the museum and sharing an ice-cream as we talked about how we’re the luckiest people in the world). But then in between there’s the high emotion and unpredictable meltdowns that no amount of reading can prepare me for.

And then I feel like a bad mom for being pushed to snap. And then I immediately think that he needs to learn that when you scream at people they snap. So then I repeat the lovely ho-po-no-po-no chant:

“I love you, please forgive me, I’m sorry, thank you.”

Directed at me and Arty and this phase of life.

Because oh my heavens this phase of life is sweet and funny and adorable. But it is still – even after over a year of practice – challenging to the core.

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