Abandonment

Remember this post? Remember how frustrated I was and attempting to be the “tough” mom? Well I finally figured out what was wrong this weekend. My first assumption was the season change, which still could be a factor. I then decided to blame my daycare (of course!) for letting LB sleep 2-3 hours during her nap. Obviously it was affecting her sleep!  On Saturday I tested my hypothesis. I didn’t give her a nap at all. She slept maybe 20-30 minutes in the car ride from Farmington, NM but once again, she was walking up the walls at bedtime.

I was completely at a loss, and REALLY pissy by 10:30 pm that night.

 Then the truth revealed itself.

The nightly bedtime rejection has been happening more and more frequently since this incident. The anxiety level in LB reached maximum velocity on Saturday night. It became obvious that her emergence from the bedroom was not just a silly toddler game. There was geniune concern on her face.  Each time I angrily ushered her back to bed, that concern started morphing into outright fear.

What is was she afraid of? She’s started telling me that there’s “spiders in my bed” and I keep assuring her, “No, spiders live outside, not in your bed.” While strolling through the Halloween section at Target this weekend, she was visibly afraid of the big, hairy, hanging spiders. Maybe she was having spider nightmares and didn’t want to go to sleep?

This was different though. If LB is tired enough, she will eventually pass out, even if she has to throw a minor tantrum first. This time, something wasn’t letting her go to sleep, even though I could clearly see the exhaustion in her eyes. Each time she came out of her room, she asked me to pick her up. At almost 2.5 years old, she rarely asks this anymore. She is Miss Independent.

At this point, the “tough” mommy had failed miserably, and I picked my 26lb child up. Y’all know I’ve been watching a lot of Planet Earth, so immediately I thought of the baby monkeys, clinging to their mama’s chests. That’s what my child was Saturday night: Death Grip Baby Monkey.

As I hugged her and rocked her, she just kept clinging. It was like she had reverted to her 10-month-old self.  So I started saying, “This is how I used to rock you when you were a baby.”

All at once, she let go of my neck, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mommy, you come back?”

I was shocked. My daughter was afraid to go to sleep because she thought once I left her room, I wasn’t coming back. It totally broke my heart that I had been trying to brush off her feelings as some 2-year-old bedtime power struggle. When I finally stopped  trying to control the situation, the truth came out: she was afraid of abandonment.

So I laid her down, whispering this mantra into her ear until she fell asleep:

Mommy always comes back. I love you. Mommy always comes back.

She slept until morning.

I’ve been focusing so much on how I have to nail this court appearance, that I completely overlooked how all this stress might be affecting my daughter. How Rooferman’s sudden appearance might have had more of an impact than I thought. I’ve been second-guessing LB’s attachment and resilliency, like her dad must not be that important to her. I’m still under the ignorant impression that she’s only 2 and she’s only seen her dad 16 times in the last year and a half, so therefore she must not have bonded to him.

Its obvious how very, very wrong I was.

P.S. I also broke the news to Rooferman’s parents this weekend, that I would be taking him to court for custody. I cried a little bit, because they’ve already been through so much legal crap with him, and I really don’t want to add to that pain. They hugged me, thanked me for telling them and told me they support me completely.  Yeah, I’m lucky as hell they love me and LB so much.

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11 thoughts on “Abandonment

  1. I remember going through abandonment issues with my kids! Every time I would go out at night or if my mom had to take them to school they would ask if I am coming back ;(

    Its become habit now to reassure them constantly that I will not leave them and they will always know where I am if I have to go somewhere!

    Kiara still gets unsettled a bit if I go out for the night but she will tell me “You coming back hey mom. You wont leave us” – breaks my heart EVERY TIME!

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  2. Riley still ends up in my bed most nights, and sometimes Sylvia, too. Since it normally doesn’t happen until 5 a.m., it doesn’t bother me. It’s kind of nice, actually…

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  3. OMG you’re so lucky the ex’s parents are so awesome. And your situation with LB sounds so sad! But there’s always the pride in your heart that you WILL never leave, and she’ll grow to know she can trust you and depend on you. Give her lots of hugs!

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  4. You know, when Dick left Emilee had some major abandonment issues. It broke my heart, as well as frustrated me to no end. She would only sleep in MY bed, she cried every night, it was gut-wrenching. Eventually we worked through it, but man oh man, I can completely understand where you are coming from. And you’re right, Mommy’s Never Leave. *hugs*

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  5. I’m glad you got to tell Rooferman’s parents and that they support you. It was lots of fun hanging out with you (at least the flippin’ Broncos won this time =) Love you!!

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  6. So glad RM’s parents were good about it when you told them.

    My boys always struggle with bedtime when they return after being with their dad for a while. I have always chalked it up to him letting them run wild but now that you’ve said this, it’s obvious that there is some abandonment stuff, too.

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  7. good luck!
    I too am a Colorado mama and my co-blogger and I were both single parents nearly 10 years ago.
    it all works out and you will be fine, so will your baby.

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  8. My ex kept telling me again and again he didn’t leave the kids, he left me. Semantics. How do you explain that to a child who doesn’t have their daddy to tuck them in at night? My kids are old enough to remember their daddy living with them and even now, 3 years later, my 11 year old cries for his father at night.

    So glad his parents are supportive of you. That must lift a load having told them.

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  9. I’m glad you figured out what it was but sorry it ended up being what it was. Major hugs to you and LB during this time. Hopefully she sleeps better now since she knows her Mommy will be there for her.

    That’s great with Rooferman’s parents. Of course deep down they understand after everything. It is great that his family loves you guys so much. Sadly my ex’s family could care less about us. Or maybe they’ll care when J gets older…

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  10. Awww. Poor LB. At least you know what’s going on now, so you can address it. Shiloh and I are having the bedtime struggles right now too. She’s been scared of everything lately and she always asks me to leave her door open (I always used to close it so she could sleep). I’m trying to be patient and deal with it, but it’s hard when you don’t know if it’s a power struggle or something else.

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  11. I read this yesterday but apparently didn’t post a reply. All I can say is GOOD for both of you that you recognized at least part of what was going on and addressed it. It is hard so often, but I really admire everything you are doing.

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