Separation Anxiety


Before Baby A happened, I honestly did not understand this whole crazy, emotional motherhood thing. Mr Oh and I said things like “the baby will fit into our life, we will not become totally baby focussed”. We were like Tweedledum and Tweedledee bouncing along aimlessly in the forest of dumbass.

I now sit nervously in the café beside the creche straining to hear a sound that might be the sound of my baby not being entirely happy. I am that woman. I am quite disappointed in myself but also kind of amazed that I’m so weird and insanimommy. Baby A is totally fine in creche - or ‘playcare’ as well call it here in Sinoland. He’s not crazy about the other babies. He doesn’t quite understand why they have to be there but he likes the stuff. They’ve got good play-kitchens, solid walkers and drawers full of plastic bouncy nondescript colorful things - winner.

I’m very lucky we’re not in Ireland. I don’t have to go back to work and drop him into the icy cold waters of 8-6 creching with no warning. He’s in playcare now from 8:30 to 12:30. I go with him for an hour, leave for an hour then go back and stay with him until he’s too tired to steal the other kids’ sippy cups (this happens at about noon). I’m in the playcare so much that some of the other toddlers and I have bonded. We hang out reading stories and having tea parties. Baby A mostly ignores me. He occasionally makes the food sign so that I bring him peeled tangerines, but otherwise, I’m superfluous to his needs. I could probably duck out for the whole four hours and he’d be fine. But I stay. I don’t think I’m ready to accept that he’s okay without me - that he can be happy, and develop and exist without me.

I read somewhere (when Baby A was very small) that parenthood is, from birth, a continuous process of letting go. That was a bit of a shock - I thought he’d be with me most of the time until he was thirty. I felt like I’d just got him, I didn’t want to start letting him go. I still don’t. But I realize also that he’s bored with me and, for him, I need a life outside of him. Just a small one, nothing too crazy - I don’t want to party in stilettos or even drink not-in-my-pyjamas - I maybe just want to go to the supermarket without the countdown to meltdown. I would quite honestly like to stand in the tea aisle and think about what kind of herbal infusion I would like. I could even pick up a box or two and look at the ingredients. I wouldn’t have to worry about whether I had enough croissant to last another 6 minutes.

The problem with playcare is not Baby A - it’s me. I might want to stand in the tea aisle for two minutes without being harried by a perpetually hungry, pre-verbal megalomaniac but any more than two minutes and I’d miss him. I miss him when he sleeps. I miss him when he’s out of my sight at all.

I like to think that the difference between me and the crazies is that I’m playing a long game. I don’t want to be insanimommy any more than I want Baby A to be tied to my apron strings (if all my aprons weren’t in the faraway shipment, alternatively he could be tied to the drawstring of my linen jammies or the brassy chain of my faux Chanel purse). He’s going to go to playcare and I’m going to do other things - like study and exercise and maybe drink in something that are not jammies (although hopefully not when he’s in playcare because that’s too early, even by my standards). He’ll still love me when he’s older. He’ll still ring me twice a week and he won’t roll his eyes when I talk. He’ll be well balanced and confident and secure, even though I left him for an hour a day when he was 13 months old.

I’m upping it to two hours a day next week. I may have to be flexible on the phone calls.

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