Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following separation anxiety protocol will be followed: if the baby sees you, you must not leave his sight. For those visiting the Borden household, job resignation forms will be available upon request. Once here, should you need the bathroom before baby turns 5, you will provide (at your own cost) a full-sized cardboard cutout of yourself such as one sees of film stars or Star Trek cast members. Showering takes you away from baby too long, be advised there is a babywipe and Axe body spray regimen in effect. Options to be tongue-bathed by the cat will be considered on a case by case basis. Bring photos of your own family unless they wish to join you here with baby. Remind them to budget for cardboard cutouts.
Hey! Six months is a pretty great age. The weird, colicky “cry for no reason” hobby has faded away. Painful teething is still part-time work. His little personality is shining through. Every time he hears music, he turns to see where it’s coming from. He can tell when I’m going to pick him up because he can hear the velcro on my abdominal brace so he kicks and squeals with delight. The only issue, and I hesitate to complain here, is that after years of a completely child-free existence I now cannot leave this particular child for more than a fraction of a second. The universe is making up for those childless years by making certain I must be permanently attached to Baby. The “Separation Anxiety” Phase is a unique time in the development of a child, in which every moment the baby and parent are apart there is tremendous frustration, uncertainty, apprehension and unease. All that, plus whatever the hell is going on in the baby’s mind.
I can’t stand to leave him! It’s not that I love him so intensely it borders on the pathological (although a case could be made for that) it’s the anticipation he will WAIL. And wail and waaaaaail. This developed in the space of a day. Morning, I go to make him a bottle and some carrots–no problem. Afternoon I go to the bathroom and WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLL. And it’s not even the worst with me! When Mac comes in the baby can’t stand it if Mac briefly moves out of his line of sight. Mac hasn’t left the room and Baby wails merely anticipating the impending possibility of separation.
Meanwhile, when I’m alone with Baby during the day I sound like a third-rate rap star. I’m always talking about myself in the third person when I leave the room, hoping the kid will eventually understand I don’t literally disappear when I go to make the bed. “Mommy is going to the bedroom! Mommy is just making the bed! Mommy is speaking in the third person and verbally tweeting the useless details of her day to an audience who genuinely couldn’t care less!”
After three weeks of this I’m toying with positively insane ideas to combat this separation anxiety. I try to figure out exactly what he’s missing and replicate that. The sound of my voice doesn’t do it, so if I need to go somewhere in the house and I can’t take him with me (at this point I absolutely can’t carry him as I’m recovering from surgery) I put the TV on so he can see other people. I put him in his swing so it feels like he’s being cradled. I even leave a Tshirt I sleep in near him so it will smell like I’m still there. I don’t know why I thought that would work, and it didn’t, but I was desperate. Anything to escape the terrified screeching when momentarily out of Baby’s presence.
It has been a few months now, and we’re still barely out of the baby wipe/Axe phase. I have been relegated to the second tier Anxiety status; he’s mildly concerned if I’m the only person around he knows. Mac, on the other hand, is still First Tier, Code Red, The World is Ending status. God help me if Mac comes and goes several times in a day. Baby just starts to believe the dream is real: Daddy is HOME! Then it’s shattered as Daddy disappears to do trivial things like go back to work, eat, sleep, attend his brother’s funeral. Anything, really, is less pressing than Baby.
Funny thing, the Separation Anxiety phase. It’s loud and demanding and intense and insane. I think we’ll both miss it when it’s gone.