The Beginning of Separation Anxiety

About thirty minutes into my workout the gym’s loudspeaker kicks on and I hear, “Could Oliver’s mom please report to the playroom.”

I’m half way through my 5 mile run and for the first time in a long time, I’m feeling good. No side stitches, achy feet, stiff legs, or sleep deprived muscles to slow me down. I resist hitting the stop button on the treadmill. Surely they must be calling for the other Oliver’s mom.

“Oliver’s mom to the playroom,” the loudspeaker beckons again. Sigh.

When I enter the playroom I instantly hear that familiar ear-shattering wail, only this time it has a slight edge of panic to it. One of the new room attendants is walking around with Oliver swaddled in a blanket. When she sees me I watch the panic on her face turn into relief.

She hands over my screaming bundle of joy and like magic, silence. Oliver’s face softens, his body relaxes and he looks up at me and smiles like, “Hey mom, it’s cool; I’m all good.”

I fear we are entering the uncharted waters of separation anxiety. Most babies hit this developmental milestone around 8 months old and it can last up to around age 2. At 6 months old, Oliver is just an early bloomer. I say it’s a testament to his acute perception and love of mom.

I’m all about the positive spin.

On one hand, it feels really good to know I’m Oliver’s #1 person and at the center of his tiny universe. On the other hand, boy does this add another level of complexity to our already complex way of getting through the day.

In search of answers I scoured the Internet for ways to lessen separation anxiety and stumbled across an article about cultural differences in parenting between the United States and Africa. The main takeaway: carry baby with you at all times everywhere you go and breastfeed constantly.

Hmmmm… yea I don’t think that’s going to work for me. Oliver might be spared separation anxiety but I’d be suffering from way-to-much-time-with-baby anxiety.

And I’d start to smell really bad from my lack of showering.

I’m more about the practical advice: leave baby with familiar care providers, spend time with baby in new environments before leaving, practice leaving and coming back while at home, and implement a calm and consistent exit.

And the most important advice of all: like all other trials, it’s only temporary. For now, I shall relish in the high-pitched I-love-you-mommy-you’re-the-best and please-don’t-leave-me wail of my baby.

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