Blogher Scarred My Child (but really it was me)

So, I’m an idiot. Yeah, like, complete and total. Get this.

For the past week or so Hubby and I have been desperately trying to figure out what is up with Sam. Remember, he started school this year and all was going well. (Thank you so much to Mom Central for the B.O.M.B. Award for that post, by the way, and Classy Mommy in particular!) He loved school the first few weeks. I never had a problem dropping him off. He was always happy when I picked him up.

Sam picking BerriesAt some point that changed, and all of a sudden I was the mom with the child who was writhing around on the floor screaming and sobbing that he didn’t want to stay at school, could I please, please take him home with me? The first few times I thought it had to do with his getting over a cold; maybe he just wasn’t completely recovered yet and still cranky. But this week he was healthy and we had our worst day yet. I dropped him off and then had to wait in line at the entrance to get his pictures while listening to him scream for half-an-hour. It was completely and totally awful. Today I just didn’t even tell him it was a school day and we skipped. He has a field trip that I’ll be chaperoning tomorrow and I thought it would be a good chance to see what might be going on.

Because of course we assumed immediately that something had happened at school. I tried to talk to him about it in various subtle and not-so-subtle ways – Do you like school? Is your teacher nice? Who are your friends? Are you all friends in your class? Is anyone mean to you? What are your favorite toys? Etc.

Nothing. He likes school but not when he misses mommy. He likes his teacher. He likes his friends. Circle time is his favorite part. He likes the playground and doing the craft each day. He likes school sometimes but not when he’s sad that I’m not there with him.

Sam holding berryWe realized over the weekend that it wasn’t just school. Hubby and I went out to see a movie and the same deal happened when I tried to leave. A few days later Hubby tried to take the boys out while I stayed home; same thing. It was clear that it wasn’t school specifically, it was anything that separated him from me. Whenever I talked about going anywhere he’s say, with tears in his eyes, “Are you going away?” I still had no idea why. I spoke to friends about it. I spoke to his teacher. We always went through the same list of possibilities – had something happened at school? No, at least not that we could tell.

So today, while we ditched, we were out for a walk and I was on the phone with my mom explaining the situation. Same deal – what happened at school? Nothing. What could it be? Don’t know. We went through the possibilities. But then she says, “Well, maybe it has something to do with you going to Blogher.”

I stopped in my tracks. ” . . . uh . . . Blogher? You think?” But I already knew.

On the day of Blogher DC I left before the boys were even awake. I returned shortly before a late bedtime. It was easily the longest I have been away from either of them, about 14 hours. I almost didn’t go – remember? And a lot of that was because I was worried about them, mostly Robby though. I was preoccupied with breastfeeding and pumps and such. As well I should have been because that woman flying up 95 that evening single-handedly expressing milk from her rock boob into a Dunkin’ Doughnuts paper napkin? Yeah, that be me.

I knew Sam had had a rough day. I’d talked to him on the phone several times, but it still had never occurred to me . . .

I went home after speaking with my mom and checked the calendar. I knew the last day that he was fine going to school. I knew roughly when the trouble began because I remembered when he had the cold. Want to know what happened between the Friday that he was fine and the first Thursday that he freaked out?

Blogher. Dude.

sam and berry bushIt all made sense. All of his troubled behavior. His fear of being away from me. That day was the first time we’d ever been apart for so long, and before that he didn’t really know that mommy could be gone for an extended period of time. He woke up and I wasn’t there.

I know. Idiot. Nincompoop. Totally.

It’s easy to forget how young he still is (not quite three and half). He’s the older brother, and he’s learned so much and come so far. And he typically expresses himself so well. I feel like I usually understand what’s going on with him. I forget sometimes that he’s my baby too. And then I missed this huge thing that has seemingly scarred him.

And I don’t really know what to say to make him understand that mommy’s not going anywhere, not again, not for a long time.

13 Responses

  1. You might talk to him about “that day you were gone when he woke up”. See if he will talk about it. Tell him that was a different day from any other and that you won’t be away a long time like that again. The more times you are separated for short periods of time, maybe the more things will get back to normal.

  2. Oh, no! Kids that age just don’t comprehend time the same way. So, you really were gone forever, yk? Ack! Hope some extra love and reassurance helps him over this speed bump of toddlerhood!

  3. oh, poor baby! that is so hard for a mama.
    hang in there and give him some extra lovin’!

    congrats! i saw you were a runer up at scribbit!!

  4. Try not to feel guilty Beth. I know how selfless you are and that you’ll beat yourself up about going. Maybe I’m a mean old hag of a mother but I think that we deserve to do things, to have time to ourselves. And sometimes our kids won’t like it. And it will bother them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it because the ability to do that once in a while is what keeps us sane and reminds us who we are and enables us to be better moms because we’ve had that time. I mostly feel bad for you because I know how awful it feels to have your child fall into a mess of tears and wails on the floor.

    If you talk to Sam about it I’m sure he’ll begin to understand the difference between that day and a normal day. And that he doesn’t need to worry. He’s a smart kid.

    And please. Give yourself a break. You are totally not a Nincompoop. :)

  5. dude. i feel your pain. bb is in his second year of school and going thru a whole new host of “where’s mommy?” feeings. but last year, i had to reassure him (he was 3 and a half) every day that mommy would ALWAYS always come back to pick him up. it’s tiring. but he needed reassurance.

  6. My oldest was 3-1/2 when my second son was born and it’s hard because all of a sudden your “baby” seems so grown up compared to the real baby. You forget they’re still just little because to you, all of a sudden they’re so big.

    I agree, just reiterate that day was a different kind of day (I wouldn’t say special because it wasn’t special to him!) and that most days aren’t like that. Soon he should calm down. And don’t feel bad, because you do deserve to do something for yourself sometimes.

  7. Big congratulations for Scribbit’s Honorable Mention!!!!! And don’t beat yourself up about going to BlogHer. At some point, we have to separate from our kids. Previous commenters had some good ideas, I think. I think that since he started out loving school, he will (hopefully) settle back in at some point. How did he like the field trip?

  8. OH I am so sorry! It is sooooo hard when kids are struggling at school. I was so excited for you and him. I think skipping was a good idea. It was rough on Thing 1 for a chunk there too.

  9. We go through this a lot, especially of late. My son, who just turned 4, is going through major separation anxiety with me of late and there are times that I just am at a loss on how to deal with it. And like previous posters have said, it is hard because sometimes you forget that they are the little ones too. You just see them as so grown up and helpful and forget that they too, need that constant reassurance just as the younger ones need.

  10. I can completely relate, Beth. I am struggling with a similar situation and kick myself daily. However, my trip was not for a day, it was 3. We left DD (then 3 1/2) with my inlaws for a 3 day info trip to Atlanta for possible future relocation. Apprently DD had a few little meltdowns during the 3 days (that my inlaws never told us about). She wanted to go home “to the red house” (yes, our house is red lol), and wanted mommy and daddy (and yes, DH was with me on the trip). I felt awful when I found out what was going on while we were gone. Now we cannot even go to my inlaws house w/out her crying, AND she won’t stay overnight at my parent’s house, which she used to LOVE to do. All I can do is continue to reassure her that mommy and daddy will always return to get her no matter what and take little steps to prepare her in advance to visits to my inlaws. We actually went for dinner last week with no tears!!! Surely a victory for us with the advance prep! Time does heal all wounds for adults as well as children.

    Now…if only I could get her to spend the night with my parents again, it would be FAB!!!! The occasional night break was always nice.

  11. [...] Hartzell – Total Mom Haircut – Blogher Scarred my Child (but really it was me) I was glad to see a post about the same type of situation I was in the middle of trying to handle. [...]

  12. [...] thought back to how Baby reacted when DH and I first went to Atlanta for three days last year. It was the first time we left her [...]

  13. [...] the longest time I have ever been away was back when I went to Blogher DC for the day, and we all remember how that turned out. And that was only a [...]