Separation Anxiety

Max’s newest skill might be my favorite one yet…and surely Kate’s; sleeping through the night.  Like his new-found walking skill he is not great at it and only does it occasionally…but nonetheless it is happening!  He has slept through the night a couple of times now in the past few weeks leaving Kate and I to sleep soundly in our own bed without 2 AM feedings.  As Kate is a food source for Max, this is especially sweet for her.

Last night Max stirred and woke at about 11 PM as we were tip-toeing past his room to go to bed.  Kate prepared to go in and feed him and I got bummed…solely because I missed him and just wanted to go spend a little time with my buddy.  So I went in instead.  As usual, he was standing in his crib with arms stretched out looking for one of us to scoop him up.  I obliged.  As always, he battled his excitement to see me and his disappointment that it wasn’t Mommy.  I found his pacifier in the dark and popped it into his mouth which he resisted…but then gave in to.  He didn’t seem hungry, just lonely – so I decided to sing to him and stay a while.

After a few songs he was still wide awake but surprisingly calm to just be in my arms.  I kept singing…and then BAM!  He was out.  I slid him back into the crib, ninja-crept out, and crawled into bed with Kate.  We both assumed he’d wake up in an hour or so for a middle of the night feeding but the next time we saw him was 7 AM when he calmly woke with a smile.  “Separation Anxiety.”  Kate said.  “They say babies start getting separation anxiety right around 8-9 months.”  Max will be 8 months on Monday so it is apropos timing.

Yesterday while dropping Max off at day care he had a very different morning experience with me.  Usually I drop him off and he could care less that I’m leaving – he just wants to see his friends and play with the toys. Yesterday; different story.  His teacher was out sick so we joined another classroom with 2 other boys in it.  Max would normally be excited to meet new people.  Yesterday however, he clung to my shirt and resisted being placed on the floor with the other boys.  Very upset.  I had to go to work so I handed him off to the teacher and he erupted into cries and reached longingly for me.  I kissed his head, told him I’d see him soon, and made a break for the door.  He screamed even louder.

Once outside I took a deep breath and reminded myself that he’ll forget that he was sad in about 30 seconds.  He’ll be fine.  He’ll have fun.  My sadness left me and suddenly I was filled with smug pride.  My son misses me.  His first word (which he says all the time now) is “Dada.”  He loves me.  I know that isn’t a huge epiphany but it was so reassuring after months of being more of a caretaker to my wife than I was to my son…its just the nature of newborns.  He’s starting to hit a Daddy phase…not Mommy…and I love it.

Guilty happiness abounds.

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