Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Separation anxiety? He's not the only one

I was in a London pub and two sips into the first drink of the evening when I got the call. The little man had woken up from his sleep and was crying and no amount of coaxing from his grandparents would soothe him. He was inconsolable, I could hear it from the other end of the phone as my mother-in-law tried to make herself heard over his screaming. And there I was, a walk, tube and train ride between us. He needed his mummy and he couldn't have her. It was awful.
He had been going through a clingy stage - only really wanting me to hold him and even getting upset when I left a room - so I knew there was going to be trouble and a small knot placed itself firmly in the base of my stomach as we left him napping, knowing that when he woke and looked for me I wouldn't be there. 
As it happened, it was mostly one of those grumpy cries we all feel like having when we wake up and haven't quite had enough sleep, only accentuated by his parents' absence. I advised setting him in front of the TV or playing a CD to distract him from his mood and after a nervous wait, while I pondered whether to start making for home, I got a text to say he seemed better. I wasn't able to relax until I got a final message to say he was tucked up in bed; only then did I head to the bar and got myself a drink - large please barman.
I have been very lucky that I haven't had to use a child minder and the one-day a week I do work is spent at my parents' where he is able to come into the office, show me his favourite toy cow and leave, happy in the knowledge I am there. As he is mostly with me, I have avoided the distress many of my friends have described when leaving their babies with a child minder for the first time, but I do ask myself would he be so clingy if I had done the same? Whether it is better for children to always be with their mothers in the first few years or to learn independence and social skills at a nursery or childminders, it is difficult to say and I can see advantages to both. I know leaving him is a hurdle I will have to face and that it will probably be harder for me than him. Clearly separation anxiety can work both ways and I have been holding him a little tighter ever since while I still can.


  1. Ah, this sounds so familiar. I had my daughter in a nursery from the age of 6 months and she became relatively settled and quite confident. However, since she's started school, the real separation anxiety has started and two years ago she had to be torn from side by a teaching assistant and I had to walk away, her shrieks echoing in my ears. It was awful. So, I don't think you can ever know what will be best - it's a case I think of going with your gut instinct. We never had family around to help but if we did I would do as you are. I am sure he will be fine either way.

  2. Thanks Sam. Gut instinct is always best isn't it?