Monday, September 5, 2011

Separation Anxiety

So, I actually looked it up.

According to the National Institutes of Health, separation anxiety is defined as "a developmental stage during which the child experiences anxiety when separated from the primary caregiver (usually the mother)."

Not sufficient.  Because I have a confession... It's not my 4-year old I'm worried about. 

It's me.

Bear with me, because there are a lot of firsts. 

For the first time in his short life, sweet boy attends school five days a week.  It's the first time he's been away from me every single morning since he was born (I am ever-grateful that my work schedule requires I show up only in the afternoons and evenings).   It's the first time he's been in a classroom with an assigned seat, an assigned folder with take-home notes, and assignments to bring from home.  It's the first time he has his own little friends.

And he likes loves every second of it.

I'm the one with the freak-outs.

Seriously, y'all. What is freakin' wrong with me?

First day of school.  Look at this sweet picture...

Jackson, me, and baby sister Keene

I'm the mess.  A wreck.  I look terrible.  He is the one who is calm, happy, and thrilled to be there.

When I went to kiss and hug him goodbye that first day, he kind of looked up at me with a strange face, as if to say, "okay, freak mom, you can go ahead and go now..."

Everytime I drop him off and everytime I pick him up, he has a smile on his face.  Not one time has he cried or complained.  Not once has he said he doesn't want to go.  Never has he screamed or said anything negative about his teacher or school.  In fact, it's just the opposite. 

He is always eager to show me his green "happy notes" that he gets when he's been good that day (he's gotten one every day since school started). ((and of course I couldn't resist bragging)).  He delights in showing me his artwork, the beautiful pictures he says he draws and paints "just for mommy."  He is always thrilled to see his darling teacher, Ms. Kristen.  And he always has a wonderful story to tell when the day is done

Jackson with Ms. Kristen

So, the separation anxiety isn't his.  It's mine.  Altogether mine.

I'm the one who' been sobbing.  I'm the one who's been lonely in the morning without my first-born.  I'm the one who absolutely, positively can't wait to see him at pick-up.  I'm the one who's adjusting as my little boy grows up.  I'm the one hanging on for dear life!

So, moms, HELP!  How do you cope with this? 

I want to keep him and love him and nurture him, as he says, "for all the days."  Protect him from the wrongs I know life will one day throw him.  Keep him from the meanies who make-fun.  Nurture him as only his mama can.

But I have learned this year, in a tough and unexpected way, that it's time to let go a little.  To release my hold, just a tiny bit.  To let others offer gifts to him that I cannot.  Let others love him and teach him.  I'm already seeing that he's blossoming.  And as a mom, that makes me so happy, so proud...

I love this quote by one of my favorite poets, Rainer Maria Rilke:  “We need in love to practice only this~ letting each other go. For holding on comes easily–we do not need to learn it.”

So true.  And so much easier said than done.