So in my last post, I talked about dealing with the holidays. We just had U.S. Thanksgiving. I’m originally Canadian and celebrate CDN Thanksgiving in October (which really isn’t a big deal), but have begun to celebrate the U.S. festivities as well. All my friends and family are in Canada and can’t take time off during the week to come join us, so this year it was just me, my husband and our little boy. It was actually a really great day. Time off work, no scheduling demands, other than cooking a turkey.
Daycare was open on Black Friday so I dropped off my boy and did some shopping.
Now, Saturday Nov. 28th is our anniversary – married 7 years now. So my awesome husband made plans for his parents to watch the boy over the whole weekend. I was super excited. So Friday night at “bedtime” he drove 2 hours to his parents to drop off the boy. Then drove 2 hours back to spend the weekend with me.
Our weekend alone was super productive. I accomplished so many things around the house in 1-2 days that would normally take 1-2 weeks, in the evenings/weekends at home while playing with my boy. Of course, being our anniversary, we had time together too, candles and all. 😉
Now you have to understand that this was the first time the boy (18 months old) has spent a full weekend away from both parents. At times, he is with momma when dadda travels, or with dadda when momma gets a weekend break alone. But never away from both of us at the same time, for 2 whole days and nights.
When I went to pick him up, his face just lit up. He was soooooo excited to see momma again and he hugged me longer than he ever has. As much as I really enjoyed the time without him, being a woman again, I realized that he was really scared that maybe momma and dadda would not come back. This is normal for toddlers and small kids, at this stage. Without words, it’s hard for us to communicate fully, but I’ve been told that this is the time of life for a toddler to have real separation anxiety.
Since we returned on Sunday, he has been clingy. But I have also been unnaturally moody as well. It made no sense to me. I had such a great weekend, why would I suddenly feel such heightened emotions after a relaxing weekend?
Then it hit us. After calm weekend, no child, I let down my guards to fully relax. But the moment my boy hugged me, I recognized the feeling of fear and abandonment from being left alone. I knew it because I felt it as a child and I still feel it now, from the loss of my dad when I was just 5 years old.
Now, as you may know, young children who lose a parent feel a sense of abandonment. They just don’t know how to process abstract emotions of grief with their still developing brains. And to lose a parent, who is viewed as a stable source of security in the world. Well, it’s tough to deal with. Why did they leave? Did i do anything wrong to make them leave? Am I a bad boy/girl? These are typical feelings for a young child who loses a parent. There is a lot of literature on young children and grief. Personally, I only started to process these childhood emotions as an adult in my 20’s.
I instantly recognized that fear of abandonment in my little boy when I hugged him. It took me 2 days later to realize that it triggered my own childhood trauma. And after letting my guards down so much from a relaxing weekend, it was so much easier for that lost and broken little girl to return, as there were no walls holding her back from my regular adult life.
As my husband said: “You carry so much hurt, so much emotion inside you every day. Such hurt that I can never begin to imagine. And you hold it back with a wall so it doesn’t interfere with your daily life as an adult, as a professional. But when it does come out, it’s a tsunami.”
Recognizing the feeling of abandonment in my boy triggered my own residual feelings of abandonment. It never really goes away, I just learn more each day about myself and dealing with such emotions. It doesn’t help that my mom has since passed as well, and never got to meet my boy. It just muddies the waters of already complex emotions of grief. And still, I need to re-assure my boy that momma will not leave him, when I know darn well that a stray accident or illness could make me a liar. As a mom, I know what he needs to hear because I still want to hear it too. I know I need to tell him these things, even when I know them to be false. We are all just dust in the wind and eventually, even moms and dads can’t be around forever, as much as we want them to be, or we ourselves want to be for our own children.
Today is Tuesday, and I am having a bad day. That lost and broken little girl just wants her mom or dad to tell her it’s ok, so the adult woman can pass it on to her little boy.