Separation Anxiety…whoa!

Oh my goodness, I am two days into Winter Break and Potamus has developed full-fledged separation anxiety symptoms. Seriously. From out of nowhere. Or maybe my being home for 5 days in a row has triggered his primal neediness for his mama, but whatever it is, it’s causing a ruckus in our household.

On one hand, I am quite flattered that my baby has not forgotten who his mama is. I love spending time with him, going on outings to places like Little Diggers, and visiting friends. But Boof is an equal co-parent and has been a stay-at-home daddio for the past 8 months, and is equally capable of doing tasks around the house. And before the past few days, Potamus has fluidly been passed between the two of us for such tasks as bathing, being dressed, diapered, fed yogurt, for storytime and to be bounced to sleep if being nursed to sleep doesn’t work. But the minute Boof tries to do any of these things, in the past three days, Potamus has screamed his head off. If I am not in the line-of-sight at all times, he is freaking out. If I go to the bathroom he is crawling after me. If he wakes up in the night in his new big-boy-bed and he’s nursed within the past 2 hours, I’d like him to be bounced back to sleep, but to no avail. Wailing and beating his tiny little fists against Boof’s large chest. The sound is both pitiful and heartbreaking and does NOT ease my mind about this whole daycare situation. And, while he’s trying to be manly about it, Boof’s feelings are hurt.

Boof claims that once I leave, like today I went to coffee with a friend, Potamus calms down right away and plays happily. But when he was over with grandma, and Boof came home, Potamus crawled over to her and was clingy with her. Yeah. Note to baby Potamus: this makes daddy sad.

I would like to say that I handle this clingyness calmly and rationally. But really I vacillate between feeling empathy for such a little sweetness who is having sad or scared moments and needs his mama, and moments where I want to put my fist through a wall. I’ve been reading some personality stuff online, and this pretty much sums up some of my frustration nicely:

Motherhood can be especially challenging for your restless sign, since it requires consistency, structure and often, sitting still. As a spontaneous Sag, you’re used to following your instincts and whims, and going with the flow. That doesn’t quite mesh with kids’ need for regular meals, bedtimes, school and homework schedules. You may forever be juggling way too many projects, leaving you short on time and attention for your children. Motherhood demands that you cut back on the multi-tasking, even if you still type emails while breastfeeding, or allow occasional time with “electronic babysitters” like TV or iPads. The pre-verbal stage can be especially hard for the antsy, interactive Sagittarius mom. Your idea of purgatory? Sitting still to play endless counting games, stack the same three blocks, or do any of the other mind-numbingly repetitive activities that others call “early childhood development.” You’ll need that proverbial village to keep your children properly raised and entertained.

Needless to say, the clingyness falls under this category of often-annoying to me. But I am trying really really hard to just get down on his level, be in the present moment, even if it’s in the middle of the night and he’s nursing to sleep, and have some quality time. And in trying to wrap my head around this sudden spurt of clingy separation anxiety, I came across this quote:

the clingy, attention-seeking nature of our children is actually hard-wired into their brains. It makes biological sense that children evolved to make sure they were under an adults’ radar at all times, to protect them from wolves and other dangers in the wild. There may not be any wolves in our houses these days, but children’s brains are still the same.

Whew, that is SO good to remember. While I knew it bodily, my more advanced intellectual brain wants baby Potamus to operate with a fully functioning frontal lobe, or can understand basic English and have patience to ‘wait a sec while mommy wipes her butt.’

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