Jeremy has separation anxiety.
Both my children have been born with their radars on from birth. Jeremy was sleepier to start off with, and considering he was a month premature that was to be expected. But it didn’t last long. Both boys do not miss a thing. Nobody has ever described my children as placid. EVER. They are described as alert, busy, cheeky and “OMG does he ever stop!?”
So it doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Jeremy’s separation anxiety has kicked in with full force. He is always aware when I leave the room now and he doesn’t cry. He yells at me, really, really loud.
At times he gets lost in playing with a toy and I have to busy myself as far away as possible because if I walk past him and he spots me, he remembers we aren’t supposed to be apart at any second of the day and yells at me again.
And I won’t even talk about the night wakes.
Have you seen the news about The Sleep Doctor today? If you haven’t, you can catch up here. The whole thing is highly, highly disturbing to me, and makes me want to scream at the entire western world in general and wonder why on Earth we put so much pressure on ourselves and our babies to ‘perform’ at such a young age. Fancy leaving a baby locked in a room for 12 hours and not going to them if they cry. It’s neglect. And it’s cruel.
The thing is, Separation Anxiety is pretty amazing. It means they know what you mean to them. You are their comfort, their support, their food source. Their LOVE. They come to realise the umbilical cord has been cut but you or others in your family are still their everything. They know they need you.
And they are learning to communicate. Every time Jeremy yells at one of us for something I know it’s the first point of verbal communication – If I yell they know I want something. That’s all some pretty clever things going on in that brain. So many connections being made.
So what gets me about this Sleep Doctor, who no doubt is well informed on Separation Anxiety and the fact that it is a completely normal part of children’s development…is how on Earth can you knowingly tell parents to rip themselves away from a 6m+ baby? The 6 month old baby learns their carers are not coming. They yell out during the night, their first form of verbal communication, because they need their parents, but nobody comes. Nobody comes for a maximum of 12 hours.
They are defeated. They no longer care to communicate because nobody listens. They no longer see you as someone who will come back to them. They give up.
I find that highly disturbing. If anyone asks me if Jeremy sleeps well, I will say yes. Because he is alert, healthy and communicative. Because he calls when he needs me. Because he goes back to sleep for me, eventually. And because all of that is pretty damn clever. And I want Tom to know that humans need cuddles – babies, toddlers, children, teenagers and adults. And sometimes you won’t get to them immediately when they cry out, but you will do your utmost best to get to them when they need you and NOT after they have shut down and learn to suffer in silence.
How have you dealt with separation anxiety?