Monday, March 25, 2013

Separation Anxiety

Michelle and I had a nice visit with my Mom and Dad. Mom gave Michelle a little Easter gift to enjoy before Easter. An adorable little bunny book. Later we went to Walmart. I needed to get all my grocery shopping done and Mom loves to get to Walmart any chance she can. She offered to walk around with Michelle while I shopped unencumbered for a change. It gives her a chance to visit with her granddaughter and gives me a rare opportunity to shop without a baby fussing. We were going to meet at the front of the store in an hour. I said I'd probably be done before that and where might I find her. Mom said she wanted to look in Menswear for a gift for my brother. I rushed around to get my shopping done and asked someone the time. I was a bit early. I thought I'd run into my Mom somewhere in the store but didn't. I checked back at Menswear a few times. Then I started to worry. I searched from one end of the store to the other, all the places I thought she'd be. There was no sign of her. I thought maybe she was checking out. I scanned all of the line-ups and didn't see her. Finally I decided I might as well cash out and put my groceries in the car because I could run around the store a lot faster without the cart.

When I went back in the store, a feeling of panic set in. "What if something happened?" My Mom is just about the only person I would trust to watch Michelle but even with Mom I worry. After all, Mom admits she left my brother Mike behind in the bank when he was a baby. She had Chris as a toddler and me as a child and I guess a young baby was just too much. As she left the bank, the teller called after her "Aren't you forgetting something, Ma'am?" "No," Mom replied, "I have my purse." Priorities! She always laughs when she tells this story but now I was recalling it with horror. What if she left Michelle somewhere and someone took her? My Mom was famous for walking away from her cart. I remember even as a child I had to keep saying "Mom! Someone is going to take your cart!" (I'm not sure why I didn't tell her about little Mikey when she left him behind. Maybe I didn't notice. Or maybe I thought one brother was enough...) She was always misplacing her purse and her keys. My mind started to race. Where was she? Was Michelle OK? I thought I heard a baby cry. Was it her? I looked down one aisle after another. Each time I saw a babyseat in a cart I'd get excited then disappointed it wasn't her. Where were they? What if Mom had to go to the washroom and left Michelle outside? What if Michelle needed to be changed and Mom couldn't get her out of the carseat (my Mom had problems with the buckle. It is pretty hard to undo)?

Ironically I thought I needed a break from Michelle. As a single Mom I look after her 24-7 with no break, ever. You would think that I'd be relieved to have an hour to myself. Instead I missed her. I worried about her. It didn't feel right not having her there. When I went to pick up some baby food there was another Mom with her baby. The woman looked a  little dishevelled, tired and distracted like me except she had her baby with her so you knew why. I realized that without Michelle I just look disshevelled, like I don't care. I would just look like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Stained jeans, sweatshirt, messy hair, crooked glasses (Michelle keeps grabbing them off my face) exhausted expression. Most of the time when I was shopping with Michelle, strangers would smile, make conversation, comment on how cute she was and make a fuss of her. Now shopping on my own, no one acknowledged me at all.

I'm closer to Michelle than I've ever been to anyone. It's only natural. She's my own child. I feed her, play with her, read to her, sleep with her. In my entire life I've never spent so much time with anyone. Every hour of every day and night. I'm an Attachment Parent for sure. I couldn't be more attached! It's like she's part of me and when she's not there it really doesn't feel right. As difficult as it can be sometimes to care for her constantly on my own (especially when she's fussy and difficult and I'm on no sleep) I love her so much I can't bear to be apart from her. God forbid when the day comes when I have to leave her with someone. I'm trying not to think about that. I'm having enough trouble sleeping as it is.

So I sprinted around Walmart, growing increasingly anxious. I wondered if I should have my Mom paged (of course she was ALWAYS late whenever we were supposed to meet but this time she had my baby.) Where could she be? I realized I could probably search the store forever and not find her because as soon as I go down one aisle she could be going up another and I could keep missing her. Where could Mom be with my baby?! Maybe she'd kidnapped Michelle and was on her way to Mexico! (OK, now I was just being silly.) I had spent so much time with Michelle, the bond was so strong that not being near her felt wrong. I started to soften when I thought of times Michelle had awakened and started to cry that I wasn't there. I always got so frustrated when she'd wake up before I had a chance to get anything done. (Like when I FINALLY thought it was safe to take a shower and had just stepped in only to hear "Waaaaah!" a minute later. So I'd curse silently like Yosemite Sam, dripping wet, throwing on a towel, thinking how unfair it was that I couldn't have even 5 minutes to myself.) Now I understood. She had that moment of panic. "Where is Mama?" We're supposed to be together. And as I raced around Walmart, all I could think was, I can't wait to see her face. I can't wait to hold her. Even if it is breaking my wrist. (I had carpal tunnel in my left wrist while pregnant and I've been having a lot of pain especially since that's the arm I carry her in the most. These days she's over 16 lbs so it's murder on my poor arm.) In my panic all I could think was "Where is my baby?"

When I finally saw the carseat in the distance, brown and turquoise with a pink blanket and a little pink baby inside, a wave of relief and joy washed over me. I almost ran across the store to get to her. "There you are! I've been worried sick!" "Oh sorry," my Mom said. "I didn't want to stop in Menswear until Michelle was asleep." Meanwhile Michelle wasn't suffering from separation anxiety at all. She was sleeping sweetly, quite content to roll around Walmart with Grandma and wasn't worried where I was.

So apparently an hour is my limit to be without Michelle. I have left her with my Mom for an hour before to go to a doctor's appointment. It's strange that I didn't even plan to have children but now she has taken over my life so completely that she's everything to me and I can't imagine life without her, not even for an hour. I used to use the excuse that I had to feed her every couple of hours but I've managed to stretch the breastfeeding to every three hours now. The truth is that I can't bear to be apart from her. Yes she needs me but I need her just as much.

One of the stories I read to Michelle often is called "We Belong Together." We belong together like milk and cookies, "like peanut butter and jelly, like a pencil is drawn to paper..." Michelle and I belong together. She is my other half, my better half. My reason for being. Yes there are times when she drives me crazy but most of the time she is the joy of my life. She IS my life. Maybe I love her too much. Maybe I go overboard. I can't help it. I never expected to be a Mom but this is the only Mom I can be. All in.

No comments:

Post a Comment