My Separation Anxiety
Instead of a work-meets-fun outing in Hong Kong, I seemed to be on a guilt trip. The run-up to the first trip away from my 20-month-old was agonising – would she wonder where Ma had disappeared, would she stick to her routine, would my husband and mother-in-law be able to manage, what if she fell sick, what if she cried for me to return… The day before leaving, I was a nervous wreck. I suggested calling off the trip; the husband insisted I was crazy. I finally left for the airport after traversing a tide of tears.
I was out of sorts on the first day – I saw R in the cute little baby toddling around after her mother at a supermarket, in the child who wanted to pet the pandas and penguins at Ocean World and in the little girl who was out having a snack with the father. I called home to learn that R was doing just fine and was out with her Papa. There on, things got better. The three days were packed – travel, meetings, exploration and shopping, and all that all over again. Except for a phone call a day, there wasn’t much I could do to connect with R. I learnt that she was thriving – eating, playing, napping and doing all the things that she did when I was around. She asked for me, yes, but seemed to understand that I was out for a reason – to get her toys and clothes! I couldn’t believe it. All these years and psychologists still had the separation anxiety thing wrong – babies didn’t get it, moms did!
Travelling without R taught me a few things, one that every working woman should keep in mind:
- My child will be fine without me for a few days.
- She does understand that I’ve gone for work and will be back soon
- Hell won’t break loose if she doesn’t eat or sleep on time a few days
- I am more than just a mom
- I need to devote some time to me and my own interests
- Being on my own in a new place is a great way to reconnect with myself
- My husband is a more hands-on parent when I am around
- Returning home to cuddle a warm-from-sleep little body is the most incredible feeling