Friday, April 13, 2012

Motherhood Notes - Seperation Anxiety

For a while there after Judah started walking, when I got home he'd run to me and snuggle and just delight in my presence. It was sooooo sweet.

Maybe a month ago, the pattern started to change. He'd run to me and then when he got to me would turn and run away again. He'd start running to and from me, not wanting to be in my arms but suddenly frantic and unwilling to play or be distracted. He'd cling to my legs if I tried to do something else, but fuss and whine if I held him.

I've figured out that the little man is excited to see me but immediately anxious that I'm leaving again. He doesn't know how to process anxiety, so it's expressed in fussing, clinging, etc. It's rough on days when I've got to roll forward with dinner and the next evening activities, because his clinging makes it next to impossible to work but I don't want to force him away from me when he needs comforting mamma time.

I'm trying to put aside all the pressing next things and sit down with him, chasing him around the house or blowing bubbles on the porch or flipping through books. He'll run off to do something and then run right back needing reassurance in my presence and interaction with him. I want to give him that reassurance.Once the anxiety passes he runs around like a man  on a mission, exploring every noon and cranny (again) and babbling to himself in happiness.

I don't know if it's just because I'm a working mama, or if it's maybe also heightened by his personality. He's a reserved but fiercely independent little man who runs far and wide in the park or our church, not ever looking back to see if anyone is with him. But then if an adult stoops down to talk to him or anyone (seriously, anyone other than Isaac and I) picks him up, he bursts into tears of panic. That same tendency shows itself in his reaction to the church nursery.

Is this common at this age? I just don't know.

How do I help him engage with people comfortably without panicking him?

With the people he does know well, he's pretty dang funny in trying to get their attention. I've been trying to get his "flirty face" on camera for months now. He was on skype with my sister Michelle here, and Judah recognizes her from skyping weekly (life of third culture kids, I tell you). He drops his eyes and stares at you coyly, and then giggles with delight. He started it, not us! We just laugh every time so he's kept it up.

PS - I've realized that the photos and videos I post make it look like Judah is clothes-less except a diaper about 50% of the time. Hmmm....


AHLondon said...

It is common. Tends to happen about the time kids can run away from you, or more specifically, when they realize that they can run away from you. Suddenly they wonder if they want to. How long and intense the phase depends mostly on the kid's personality. Usually Momma is in the hotseat, but sometimes it is Daddy or the nanny. The fastest and best way through is indulgence. Hold him when he wants. Let him come to you, etc. Think of it like a game of tag where there is a home base and someone is It. When first playing, a child stays near home base. As they get faster, they venture further away. The world is It. You are home base. He has to keep checking to make sure you are there.
It is worst with your first child. Going to the bathroom, unloading the dishwasher--these will be difficult for the next weeks. If you know about the stage and indulge it, the transition takes about 6-8 weeks. Resist, and it will take longer. Be aware, once they get though the stage, off to the races they go. (My nephew just made this transition.)
In case this is very bittersweet to you, I promise you that the further blossoming of his personality will make up for it. I feel your ache, but things just keep getting better. I promise.

Kacie said...

Well, I think it's been about six weeks, so it'd be great if it'd pass! I do think his personality is pretty reserved. He's never been comfortable with anyone other than us except for a friend of ours that he sees weekly.

Jaimie said...

Nothing wrong with him not having a shirt on. *shrug*