I’m not sure if it was naivete or that until a few days ago it just wasn’t obvious, but I had really thought Elanor was fairly oblivious to the chaos around her caused by the move. I thought that the hardest part would be the plane ride there, especially if our seat upgrades don’t come through.
I was wrong.
She has been profoundly affected by the move…or more specifically by how I’ve been managing the move.
As you know, I’m a stay at home mom. While she does hang out with her grandparents once a week or so on her own and once a week with them and us (we go over for American Football on most Sundays September-February), she has spent an inordinate amount of time with them in the past six weeks. There were the two times I got sick and needed them for back-up care when I was too ill to take care of E myself. Most recently, though, it’s been for her own safety as I (or I and someone else) pack or move things around the apartment. So it’s been long days with the grandparents, especially since Ravi left for Singapore a little over a week ago.
She first started crying on Friday when my father in law came to collect her. I have never felt more helpless or like a worse mom then when I was forced to close the apartment door in her tear filled face as she sobbed in the hallway with her grandfather. (who adores her and whom she adores, fyi). Then on Saturday I took her over there and a few hours later they brought her back, asleep. She woke up in her crib and I cheerily greeted her. But when we went to leave for her going away party, she didn’t want to leave the apartment, going so far as to fling herself repeatedly at the door when I closed it. She sobbed as I carried her to the car. She wailed the entire way to her party. Once at the party, it took a good half hour before she was willing to leave my lap, something she has NEVER done before.
That’s when it hit me. Ravi was gone (even though she’s seen him on Skype and “talked” to him on my cell) and I kept leaving for long periods of time too.
She was scared I was going to leave her.
I felt totally and completely horrible. In trying to do what’s best for my family (ie getting the move under control), I had let her down and instilled a fear she’d never had before-that I could go away and leave her.
So I did all that I could…we had a wonderful time at the party (after that first half hour, she was running around having a fantastic time with her 4 friends and I was enjoying hanging out with my fellow parents–pictures later, if I can). I had planned to spend Sunday dealing with the apartment, but Elanor needed her mom more, so I called my friend Kate and we took her to the zoo. Then we took her up to see Kate’s mom, who got to enjoy a psuedo-grandchild for a few hours. I’m hoping that these two days with Mommy helped calm her, but I have a sinking feeling that she’ll still have a rough week as I finish getting the apartment ready and direct the movers. With luck everything will be done by Thursday night (although we have Friday as a buffer zone day) and Elanor will have Mommy back on Friday (after I get a cavity filled…sigh). Ravi gets home late on Sunday, but I think it’s really important to take her to the airport so she can see Daddy come home too.
But nothing has stemmed the flood of Mommy-guilt on this one. I feel like I’m letting her down. I hate that I’m the cause of a fear–and while separation anxiety isn’t uncommon in this age bracket, this seems way out of proportion to her norm and far to understandable within the context of the move to chalk it up to run of the mill SA. Realizing that she is far more aware of what’s going on that I’d given her credit for is difficult, as is knowing that there will be no new normal for at least a few months. Not until we’re in our “real” apartment and our stuff has arrived…which will be summer.
And it’s times like this that I have to wonder….exactly how selfish is this move? What harm are we doing? Are the long term benefits for Elanor REALLY better than the costs? That it was the better choice for the adults? I just don’t know.