I used to think that when my little was crying, was refusing to leave my side, wanted to be reminded exactly when we would be together again that I was somehow being judged. That her actions were a reflection of my parenting – which seemed that maybe in some way I had failed to teach her that she was safe and that I was reliable. In other words, I made it all about me. That sounds selfish and ridiculous as I write it of course, because it is served with a side of agony for the stress she is under and defeat for not being enough for her along with a perfectly unhealthy dose of self-loathing because of course – I AM DOING IT ALL WRONG.
But I have come to “look for the helpers” in this situation and I can attest that they are always there. I used to think that a tight little smile from a person that I didn’t know well who saw a meltdown in the works was a silent judgement or a “better you than me”. I was wrong. What it was actually? A gift. A momentary sign that I was not alone, nor was my child and that somewhere out there someone else saw a seconds-long clip of our life and had a tiny sailboat of grace to float me. And there have been others just like it. A friend, who never gives up on rallying my kid even if she is tired, or wants to opt out or has molars coming in or a hangnail. She persists in making my little feel welcome, in showing her that that she will be okay without me, that she is surrounded by love wherever she goes. A beginner version of the mom I have come to be was not always able to generously accept this kind of help.
It will get better. I know that. I have heard countless stories of perfectly well adjusted people who had some degree or another of childhood separation anxiety. And they all lived to laugh about it. Their parents have too. I must say, that for every person who has shown me a glimmer of hope in this – I am abundantly grateful and immensely thankful for their kindness.