Break the Anxiety Habit

At the zoo with friends today: suddenly, the baby needed a bottle. (Drat that baby — always needing to eat and stuff!)


Just leave, would you? And leave the car keys, too.

So my friend took Boo and his daughter off to the merry-go-round, and I just sat there, feeding the baby, for ten minutes, undisturbed by the psychic (-o?) demands of a 3-year old.

It was totally weird.

And more than a little scary.

We’re incredibly lucky, of course, to be able to swing the at-home-parent thing. An unexpected side effect of our lifestyle, though, is some pretty serious separation anxiety. For me, that is. Boo’s happy as hell to escape my orbit (envision my future helicopter self “just stopping by” her dorm room to check in) but I — well, I’m a wreck.

To make things worse, come July, Boo will be in nursery school three days a week! (Four months from now? you laugh. What can I say? I’m a neurotic who plans ahead.)

Taking the Blueberry in for her weekly plaster appointment, I’ve gotten an inkling of what the drop-off future has in store for me. After lining up a neighbor or friend or far-flung relation to keep an eye on Boo for a couple of hours, I — get this — I leave her for two hours.

For a good twenty minutes after I leave, my internal monologue continues: How’s Boo’s blood sugar? Is her sunscreen still working? Will I need soft restraints to force her into the benighted jacket? Even in her absence, I can’t immediately stop planning conversational tropes or making up story plots.

Anxiety is a tough habit to break.

I’m over-attached, and that’s no good for Boo, and it’s definitely no good for me. I think I’ll be able to get over it, though, because through the nervousness of separation, I’m already starting to get a glimmer of its advantages. When I sent Boo off to the carousel yesterday, the voices in my head quieted down just for a minute. In its place, I was visited by some long-forgotten mental silence, absent since before I had kids.

It was lonely, stuck with just my own thoughts. But — and here’s a word I haven’t used in a while — it was also pretty relaxing.