My blog is generally a happy place. This is quite deliberate.
Friends and family back home read about our adventures. I am conscious of this, and make every effort to focus on the positive. To tell our stories, to cause no worry.
This of course influences what I choose to write about, and while I understand (and even aspire to) the ethos of write like no one is reading, my reality is that people are reading.
It is a difficult balance.
Our life here is fun and exciting, an amazing experience for us all, one that we are making the most of.
But, it is also mundane and tiring and normal.
And, there are bad days. Of course there are.
This past week has had some particularly difficult moments.
Definition: The normal fear and apprehension expressed by infants when removed from their mothers or approached by strangers.
I’ve read the books, I’ve talked to other parents, I’ve seen it in action.
But, I have never actually had to deal with it myself before, and I am finding it really hard.
Back in the UK I worked (all but) full time. The boys started nursery at six months. The oldest went off, without a backward glance, and never had any separation anxiety issues. He was sometimes a little cautious with new people, but never clung to me, sobbing, if I tried to leave him somewhere. My younger boy, while less ‘see you later’, still approached separation in the same way as he approaches most things – with cautious, but excited, anticipation. He would stay close until comfortable, and then he’d be off.
The wee girl… Well, it turns out that she’s more of a cling to my leg, sobbing, type.
She’s never had to get used to me not being there. I am always there.
I really want to start running again. The easiest way for me to do this is to run in the gym (I prefer outdoors, but until I build up my stamina again, running with the jogging buggy is a bit much for me). The YMCA has a crèche, so I could run/do a class during the day when the boys are at school.
Excellent plan, I thought. I had left the wee girl in there a couple of times during the boys swimming lessons a few months ago and she’d been okay.
I tried on Friday and it was awful.
The wee girl was hysterical and in the end they came and got me.
They suggested that I try putting her in every day if I can, for short periods, while I sit in the lobby with a coffee. So, she was in on Monday and Wednesday. I sat in the lobby and listened to her alternate between screaming and sobbing.
I know intellectually that I have to persevere (and she’ll be going in again tomorrow), but it is so hard. She needs to develop some independence. She needs to socialise with other children, her own age, in an external setting.
She needs to learn that I will always come back.
But, sitting, listening to her sob? That goes down as a bad day.
It seems ridiculous that I am going through this with my third child. I feel that I should know what to do. That I should know the tricks; that I should have a plan; that I should be able to do this. That I can’t ask for help, because I am the experienced parent.
But, this is a new one for me, and right now I’m at a loss. I can only keep trying, and hope that one day she surprises me by running in to the crèche without a backward glance, just as her brothers would have done.
I know she’s still young, and that there is plenty of time. But I almost feel that I have done her a disservice by not giving her the opportunity to develop the confidence that her brothers had at this age. That while she is very secure and confident in me being there, she has had no opportunity to learn to trust me when I’m not, almost as if I have taught her that she is only safe if I am there.
How important is independent confidence in a toddler? When should they learn that a parent will return? How can I make this experience less stressful for her, and me? When do I admit defeat and try again in a few months? If I do that, am I just making it even harder for her in the long run?
So many questions, and right now, not very many answers!
I want to feel confident in my decision to tough it out with her. I believe this is the right thing to do, for both of us. But, what I believe and what I feel are not quite in sync yet.
Suggestions on a postcard please…!
I’ve linked this post up to #PoCoLo from Verily, Victoria Vocalises.