November was a tough month, which is one of the reasons I’ve been somewhat quiet around here lately. Little Miss started us off with a whopper of a chest infection, followed by the flu which we’re all slowly getting over, Little Bean included, and finally she finished this bout of sickness with a vomiting bug. In all, A missed quite a bit of Preschool and desperately wanted to stay at home with Momma Bear, snuggled up in her PJs no matter the time of day. All of which is totally understandable but it’s made the days she has been able to go to Montessori somewhat difficult. Separation Anxiety has hit. Hit hard. There have been plenty of tears. Hers and mine.
I have had to restrain myself on quite a few days lately as I brought Little Miss to Montessori. Her tears have flowed and my heart has been broken as I wiped those tears away from her flushed cheeks.
“What’s wrong sweetie?” I’d gently ask hoping against hope that we could get to the bottom of this.
“I don’t want to go to school,” she’d say in amongst the broken breathing as the tears take over.
“Why?” I’d ask wondering if there is any rational answer.
“I miss you,” she’d cry into my neck as her little arms cling tightly to me.
And so my heart breaks over and over again and I fight back tears that match hers. Her confidence has been knocked after this disastrous month of sickness. I don’t think that she necessarily misses me but it’s the only way she can express her feelings. She misses the comfort and the protection of being home with Momma Bear, the cuddles and knowing she’s safe. She misses our lazy day routine as she recovered from every bug under the sun.
I know that the only way to help her get over this case of separation anxiety is to ease her back into the classroom, but I’ve held her hand tightly as we walked through the door. It hasn’t been easy on her and there’s been many a day lately when her teacher would tell me that she was yet again a little tearful throughout the day. We know it’s a phase. We know her confidence has taken a hit and we know she will get over this period when she’s ready. But it’s tough.
And it hasn’t been easy on me either. I feel her anxiety with every bone in my body. I remember those feelings of so desperately wanting to stay with my own mum thirty years ago. A has always come across as a strong and confident girl. She dances enthusiastically, she proudly sings loudly and she happily smiles and talks with confidence. I didn’t see this worried and upset girl on the horizon but I should have. She is four and has had her world turned upside down the last six months.
Her baby sister arrived, dividing Momma and Papa Bears attention and taking some from her. She started Montessori with structure and routine but an isolation from everything she has felt comfortable with. Things change but her world is smaller than ours and change can be huge. We haven’t forgotten how her world has been drastically upturned but we also need to routinely appreciate that she won’t handle change as quickly as we do. She has always gone with the flow in the past but something has to give along the way and these past few weeks have been difficult on her. She wants her comforts, her home, her Momma.
And for these reasons my own separation anxiety has taken a huge hit. I so desperately want to protect and shield her from any pain, hurt, loneliness or worry. I have felt like the worst parent sending her into school with tear stained cheeks and I have cried harder than her as I sit at the steering wheel. I blame myself although I know I’m not to blame. I want to keep her at home even though I know that’s the worst thing I can do. I want to reach inside her and take away the feelings that cause her to cry. I so badly want her to be happy and confident and playful but that is not my calling or my choice. Even at four she has to make her own way, understand her own feelings and live her life.
But that does not mean that I won’t feel for her, that I won’t be desperate to be by her side at every moment, that my anxiety will tip the scale until she’s back with me again and I know she’s ok. Separation anxiety has hit both me and little miss and until she is happily skipping into Montessori again like before, I will be her shadow and feel what she feels.