My twins are three-and-a-half and still exhibiting bouts of separation anxiety. Even though they love their summer camp and have a lot of fun, they still give me a hard time when I drop them off by crying, clinging to my legs, or running off. On the first day of camp, Austen made a mad dash across the playground to escape the camp counselor, and I had to chase him down! It got a little better after that, but there are still plenty of days with tears and clinging. Of course, I hear from the camp counselors later that the boys are perfectly fine about thirty seconds after I leave, but they still have to put on a good show while I’m there. Even the promise of ice cream when they get home doesn’t always get them to curb their misbehavior.
Even though I have two older children, this is really my first experience with separation anxiety. When my older two were babies, I had to return to the workplace very quickly, so the boys spent their days with a babysitter and other children. I think they just learned at an early age that it was okay to separate from Mommy for a while.
But with the twins, I decided to work from home when maternity leave was over, so they were with me all day, every day, until they started part-time preschool when they were almost three. Even then, they were only away from me for a few hours a day. Thus, they got used to having me around . . . maybe a little too much!
Strangely enough, though, now it’s me who’s suffering from separation anxiety as my older ones grow up and spend more time away from home. My seventeen-year-old is in New Orleans with a group from church to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina. I find myself wondering if he’s okay, what he’s doing, if he’ll call, if he’s safe, and so on. It feels strange not to have him in the house! But I guess it’s something I’ll have to get used to. Another year of high school, and then he’s off to college. And I’m sure the years will quickly pass, and he’ll really be on his own. Will it get any easier with each kid? Somehow I doubt it. Yes, my twins will grow out of their separation anxiety soon. But I don’t think I ever will.