I’m sitting in the living room, it’s 9:30 pm. And I am listening to Amie screaming that she wants Mama to lie next to her and that she wants to go see Mama.
DH has been ill for a week so he has been sleeping in the guest room/study and has also not been putting Amie to bed at night – I usually do the nap. This evening is the first time he is putting her back to bed and she is hysterical.
The first time she climbed out of the bed I heard him say: “Mama will be angry with you.” This seemed to stall her – the thought of angering me?! – and she stood in the corridor, at the bedroom door, screaming pathetically, not knowing what to do.
I went to her, gave her a hug and explained calmly that it was Baba’s turn to take her to bed and I was right nearby. I carried her to the bed and she resumed her crying. Baba was a bit upset that I hadn’t been angry like he had said.
I felt I shouldn’t be angry with her. I wanted to be supportive (“I know you can do it”) and sympathetic (“I know how you feel”), but also decisive (“I am not coming to bed, you have to go to sleep with Baba”).
I feel Amie and I have become very close this last week, perhaps due to Baba’s semi-absence, perhaps due to her having a high-fever flu over the weekend and spending a lot of time close to me. She comes to give me hugs and kisses more often, more intensely too – harder squeezes, bone-crushing snuggles, softer kisses, the expression on her face always almost one of pain and worry. I hadn’t thought she would also have separation anxiety. Her babysitter came this morning and she let me go off to work without a thought…
Now she is coming out again and I am resolved to sit here in the sofa and not give her a hug. Can I smile
I didn’t give her a hug, kept a neutral face, and told her to go back and no, not climb onto the sofa next to me. Baba was right behind her and for a moment we were at an impasse. Amie sobbing in the middle of the living room, me on the sofa trying to keep my cool, Baba in the corridor looking in not knowing what to do.
I could tell he didn’t think I was being firm enough. I told him to pick her up and hug her – as I was evidently prohibited from doing – and to carry her up and down the corridor a couple of times.This seemed to work: she calmed down, probably because she could see me each time they passed by the living room. But then she began to insist she sleep next to me on the sofa – which she did when she was sick – and we were back at square one.
Baba carried her back to the bedroom and closed the bedroom door. She is now screaming even more hysterically and I heard her pulling on the doorknob but Baba must have brought her back to the bed.
Now it’s 10:10 and she is still crying, but calmer, or more exhausted. It reminds me of along period months ago, when she was having such separation anxiety it was almost debilitating to herself and all around her. She screamed when she was dropped off at daycare, when Baba tried to put her to sleep, even when I left the room, and we couldn’t get a babysitter…. She screamed so badly at nap in daycare that we changed her to a mornings-only schedule, which helped tremendously (sleep seems to be a factor here). We stopped the Baba every-other-day bedtime to an only-Baba-bedtime, and after a couple of bad evenings (never as bad as this), it became her routine. We went to Singapore and India where she was kind and open to so many people… When she came back to daycare they called her “a different Amie!”
She needs to be up early to go to daycare. The practical part of me says to just go in and take over and, exhausted as she is, she will be asleep in 5 minutes. The wife part of me feels for Baba – though it is also somewhat upset at his berating me for being too soft – and wants to respect Baba’s belief that if I do that, it will give her the message that screaming will get her what she wants. That’s a belief I subscribe to… but in this situation? The Mama part of me says: just go, go! Then: no, wait! If you go you might precipitate another bout of separation anxiety…
Now she is quiet. Is she asleep?
How to love and nurture your child and also make sure that her love is not so exclusively of you? I want her to love others, for their sake, of course, but for hers first of all. Because what if something happened to me? What if one day I’m not there for her, and the only way she could stop crying is from exhaustion? I think of that possibility every day. I know it happens. But why do I feel that I have to be prepared for that – that I have to prepare her for that?
Why is it is so damn painful! How can something so soft be so damn hard!
It’s 10:20 now and still quiet. Can I go in yet and hug her?