Separation anxiety: The day my toddler wrote me off

IMG_20160226_173835Hubstopher and I went on a mini vaca this past weekend. As I mentioned in a previous post, his best friend got married out of town and it would be the very first time that I would be away from my curly girly! My heart broke at the thought of leaving our 16 month old at home, but we were unable to take any of our kids with us. Look, my spreadsheet brain and I thought that we had this separation anxiety thing waxed. I filled my MIL in on curly’s routine, I made sure to pack all her favorite things and we even slept over at MIL’s house the night before, which I thought would help to ease my girl into being there for 3 days.

But as fate would have it, my girl started heating up hours before we were meant to depart. I lay next to her, trying to cool her fever ridden body down, feeling like the worst parent in the world. I obviously cried like a baby (obviously when no one was looking) and said my goodbyes with a heavy heart, trusting that God would sort everything out for us.


The next day (Friday) MIL reported that Curly was just not herself. She was still running a mild fever, she wouldn’t eat and was very, very crabby. She even stood at the front door, calling out “Mama!” and probably wondered why Mama wasn’t coming to get her! (Sob!) By Saturday morning however, the fever broke and she was back to her old self. I can’t help but feel that my girl probably came to terms with the thought that we were never coming back! You see, a toddler cannot grasp the concept of time. Apparently, up until the age of about 3ish, their concept of time is “now” and “never”. So if mama isn’t here by now that must mean that she is never coming back. Oi.

On Sunday, when we returned, I expected this big reunion, running in slow motion to each other in a field of sunflowers and all of that. But nope, she did not even look at me! She was more interested in our bags, as we unpacked the car, and just about everyone else there. But no love in the club for Mama. After much prompting, she eventually glanced in my direction, but it was as if she did not recognize me. She stared and stared, clearly not registering that I was her mother.

I’m happy to say that this lasted for all of 10 minutes but it still shocked me that my Curly went into a state of “detachment” so quickly. Detachment is a state of emotion that occurs when an infant or toddler has experienced hurt, anger or depression due to separation anxiety. Kids in this state often turn away from their mothers because they cannot bear to have the feelings of hurt and longing brought up again.

I can’t imagine how this could affect sensitive children or kiddies who have to be away from their mamas for long periods of time. It’s believed that kids aged between 6 months to 4 years are more particularly vulnerable. I’m not saying that you should have your kid glued to your hip, but I do know that I am in no hurry to be away from my girl, for such a long period of time, anytime soon!

I must admit, the break did the world of good for Hubstopher and I. The wedding was beautiful and the time away from “life” even more so. But coming back home to see my kids faces – PRICELESS.



Leave a Reply