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Apr 18

Separation

It’s hard for me.   For a whole bunch of different reasons – one of which I’m pretty sure is because I had my kids late (compared to my siblings – I was 29, with three younger siblings and nine nieces and nephews before Jessica was born).  I had also been the family babysitter for my mother’s younger siblings.  There were four or five of my younger cousins (I’m the second oldest of 23 grandchildren) that I was enormously close to.  So I had spent probably fifteen years or so having to give kids back to their parents, hearing them cry when I left and not being able to do anything about it.

I always wanted to be a mother, for as long as I could remember.  I mothered everyone and everything I could.  It’s family lore that I was my siblings’ second mother, I started babysitting at ten, and still do it today.  I took my cousins overnight when they were toddlers and I was in my teens.  When I had nieces and nephews of my own, I took them as often I as I could.

It’s no real surprise that my kids would be especially attached to me.  Kids have always liked me.  I like them.  And I like my kids more than I’ve ever liked anyone :-).   I want them with me.  Sending them to school or dropping them off with people isn’t my favorite.  My default is to want them with me.  Even when I’m so tired of refereeing between Jessie and Sam and I think if Julie asks to nurse one more time, I’m going to cry, I still would rather they be with me than not.

BUT – they need to feel safe without me.  They need to feel like their whole world is bigger than me, and in order for that to happen, I need to give them time without me.  Sam, in particular, has really struggled with it.  And I think I’ve trained myself to meet that need, to be there all the time, in hopes that when he feels comfortable, it’ll be easier for him. I worried, a lot, that Sam’s separation issues were my fault.  But then I had Julie, and she was just such a vastly different personality that I was able to see that kids are who they are from the very beginning. As much as I tend to blame myself for everything with the kids, there’s only so much of it that I can really claim.

Julie just came into the world delighted with everyone, convinced that everyone is her friend.  I didn’t do that, it’s just who she is.  And Sam’s determination that the world is better when I’m at his side is just a part of his personality as well.

I’ve noticed, over the past few weeks or so, that Julie has become increasingly shy.  More reluctant to engage with people, more likely to hide behind me when people talk to her.  Because that’s a major shift from where she was before, I wanted to try and find ways to make her more comfortable, so I asked people to start taking her without me.  She’s literally with me, all the time.  Becky, my mother, Marc, etc.  I joined the local gym, not really because I wanted to work out, but because it was an easy reason for me to get out of the house and leave her with Marc on the weekends. I left her with my mother yesterday and took the older kids hiking, and she had a wonderful time.  I’m even thinking that I could leave her with my mother for a few hours a week and take the laptop somewhere and actually get some uninterrupted writing time on my book.

I dropped her off with my mother yesterday, and took the older two to Purgatory Chasm for hiking with Becky.  I was dreading it so much, as much as I intellectually knew it was the right decision.  The kids really wanted to go, it’s not safe to bring a little one to Purgatory, and there’s literally nobody else I trust more than my mother with my kids.   Marc, of course, but he was working.

And Julie was fine.   More than fine.  She waved me off happily enough, and had a fabulous time with her Grammy.  They fed ducks, visited cousins, went shopping, and she was sunshiney happy the whole time.  Burst into tears when she saw me and immediately crawled into my lap and nursed for a bit, but she had fun.

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