It happens every time I leave my kids. Without fail, I give them a big hug and a kiss, say my goodbyes, and the anxiety flows strong. Sure there are a few tears shed from my babies. Sure, sometimes, they cling to me and beg me not to go, but after I turn and leave, they’re just fine. Happy as can be.
It’s not as easy.
While they turn their minds quickly to the nearest toy, a new friend, or a loving family member, I am stuck with the anxiety of being away.
I’m the one with separation anxiety.
Not the kids.
I’m the one that worries after Sunday school drop off. I sit in the pews and wonder how long it took for them to calm down or if their face is still stained with tears. I worry if the other kids are including him, and if the teachers will see through their crying and fits and into their sweet, kind hearts within. I worry if they’ll have an accident or if they’re request a potty break like I prepped them to do. I worry if they’ll think I abandoned them or if they’ll be mad at me when I return. I know this time is good for me, to be away. To focus on this special time of worship, but I can’t turn off the mom in me.
I’m the one that worries on the first day of Kindergarten. I sit in my car and cry, unable to be strong now that I’m out of their sight. I could only hold it together for them, and now that it’s just me, I’m a mess. While they’re busy learning, and growing, making friends and making memories, I’m plagued by the thought that those memories they’re making don’t include me. I continue to worry about their safety and their happiness. And long after their anxiety passes, mine does not.
It’s never about who they are with. It’s simply that they’re not with me. Being with them keeps me whole, and when they are away, there is always a piece of me missing and longing to be whole again.
I know I’ll one day worry when they leave my nest for good and fly on their own. I’ll sit in my way too quiet house and I’ll wonder if they’re safe and happy. I’ll struggle to find the balance between independence and holding on. I’ll worry if I’m calling too much or not enough. I’ll wonder if taught them enough manners and if they’ll use them. I’ll worry that I’m losing them and crave for the moments of loud and crazy and chaotic in my home again.
No matter their age, I’m the one with that struggles with the separation. Not them.
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