When I was pregnant, I used to joke about the fact that I’d be a clingy, overprotective mom. I had no idea. Before we had Allie, when we would go on trips, we’d ask friends to either stay at our house or visit every day to feed and give a little love to our cats. I would ask them to text me pictures of the kitties every time they visited. (Seriously.) It wasn’t that I didn’t trust our friends; it was that my heart needed assurance our kitties were okay without us. If I was THAT obsessive about our pets, you can imagine how it’s been since Allie was born.
In her nine months out of the womb, I’ve probably only left Allie alone for an extended period with someone else (including Ben) nine times. I constantly have horrible scenes circling through my mind of every possible bad thing that could happen to her. And there have still been a couple of times she’s gotten hurt in my care (like the MOST AWFUL DAY EVER at Disneyland when she was just two months old [note to self: NEVER take a small infant to Disney again], and I accidentally dropped her as I went to sit us down in the mother’s lounge. I think I cried for an hour; Allie maybe cried for five minutes). The fact that even I—who spends every waking second worrying about Allie—can still not completely protect her has made me almost completely unwilling to let other people watch her.
Many people give me a really hard time about this. Others are understanding or admit it was the same for them with their first kids. Either way, I totally recognize that I will have to eventually let go. The other day, I had just decided that it was time for a real date with Ben, meaning neither one of us could watch Allie, when I read this article in The Atlantic. While it’s mostly talking about older kids, the article basically says that kids need to be left alone to play and potentially get hurt in order to be successful, independent, functioning members of society. I totally get it. I totally agree. But then, I tell myself, WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS? This cycle repeats itself in my mind over and over, and I just end up staying with Allie all the time. But, for Allie’s benefit, I think it’s time I try to loosen my grip a bit.
So the plan is that I’ll just start with small chunks of time. That way, it works her and me up to longer stretches of time. Yesterday Ben went to REI while I worked, and Allie stayed with my mom (upstairs) for about an hour. Allie was totally fine! I think I just need time to get comfortable with the separation (oh, and Allie probably does, too). Maybe one day, I’ll even let Allie go to preschool without me! At least here’s to hoping.