It finally happened.
*cue scary music*
Ten months of generally being okay with Mommy going someplace else for a little while has come to a screeching halt. That idyllic time is over.
I know all babies go through separation anxiety at some point, and that it can last off and on for a few years. And I know it’s a good thing, because it means that Bucko has developed object permanence and a secure attachment. But ugh, it is not pretty.
Bucko goes to a great daycare center on post. I am very comfortable leaving him there for a few hours here and there while I get stuff done at home. He clearly enjoys being at “school” (which is what we call it): he loves his teachers, they love him, he enjoys playing with all the neat toys they have there, and he likes being around other babies.
Today, after he woke up from his morning nap, I told him that he was going to go to school today. He smiled really big and said, “Yay!” (“Yay” is his first word––he started saying it last week. Too cute.) He knows what “school” means. He knows the drill. So off we went to school, with Bucko in a cheerful mood. We got to school, went to his classroom, and I set him down to play with some toys while I put his bottles and diapers away. He was fine. I filled out his daily paper (where they track his diapers and what he eats and when he naps) and he was fine. Then I started to make my getaway. He usually doesn’t notice, or if he does notice, he usually doesn’t care.
But today . . . .
OH MY GOD YOU’D THINK I WAS LEAVING THE COUNTRY! Huge wails, arms outstretched toward me, big fat tears rolling down his big fat cheeks. It was heartbreaking. One of his teachers scooped him up so I could leave without feeling too awful, but he kept sobbing. All I wanted to do was run over and grab him and hug him tight, but I know that’s not going to help him get used to goodbyes, so I just left.
On the drive home, I started piecing together other clues that separation anxiety was beginning to rear its tearful head. Bucko has been extra-clingy lately, something I had attributed to teething. He burst into tears the other day when we were at a new moms play group and I got up to go to the bathroom. He has started to fuss at home whenever I leave the room, even if I’m just grabbing a snack in the kitchen or running upstairs to find a clean outfit for him. He’s not content to be on the floor playing with his toys. He wants to be held. He’s been waking up seemingly scared several times each night, needing me to hold him and nurse him back to sleep.
No wonder I’ve been so worn out lately.
So now I’m wondering how long this phase will last. How long must I endure the cries and screams whenever I go to the bathroom or take a shower or drop him off at school? How long until I can be somewhat productive at home when he’s home, too? How long until I’m not so bone-tired anymore?
(Please, don’t answer that.)