Even after you birth your child they still act as if they are attached to you. Their parasitic nature doesn’t stop just because you have disgorged them from your person. They are always clinging, hanging, and swinging off your body. Touching you, grabbing you, and perhaps even attempting to crawl back inside of you. So needless to say, separation can be slightly stressful.
Psychologists talk about how when a child is first born they see themselves as an extension of the mother. That it takes time to understand that they are an individual. This existential awareness is traumatic, and is often exacerbated when the mother leaves the child with someone else. That moment of the mother departing is a reminder for the child that they are, in fact, alone in the universe…. just one solitary entity that will eventually die and enter into the endless unknown. Pretty heavy stuff for a two-year old.
So one thing that I have always made sure to do is to say goodbye to The Munch when leaving her in the care of someone else. Even if it takes a moment of conversation to discuss that I am going, but I will be back. I feel like making sure she is fully aware of what is going on is really important. The instinct may be to sneak away when they aren’t paying attention, but then the kid feels totally confused and abandoned.
Luckily, Munch has been pretty understanding about my coming and going, and I have hardly ever had to leave her in tears. Sometimes we have to talk it out longer than others, but usually she comes to accept what is happening. Although I have to say it is flattering she is so obsessed with me… even if it is just because of a biological philosophical conundrum.
But today she went over to my dad’s house for him to babysit and as soon as she got there and showed him all her toys she turned to me with her hand extended and said:
Guess she is pretty comfortable with her own individuality and the eternal mystery of mortality.