Sunday, November 29, 2009

What Would YOU Do?

M and I will be celebrating 10 years since we started dating this Thursday. TEN YEARS. Unbelievable.

Back in September, before separation anxiety had reared its ugly head, we booked spots for our dogs at the kennel and made reservations for ourselves at our favorite hotel (which is in the same town as my MIL). We asked my MIL to watch Will for one night so we could get away to celebrate.

In September, he spent a night with his grandma and LOVED it. I saw video from that stay and he had an amazing time. He was glad to come home, but I don't really think he missed us at all while he was away. It was incredibly freeing to know he was in good hands and also have a night to ourselves. My MIL offered - and we gladly accepted - to make it a monthly occurrence.

In October, we tried again. . . with disastrous results. I drove the hour up there, set up everything (pack n play, booster, changing area), and left him as he screamed and turned purple with rage. I cried as I got into the car, but was convinced he would be okay in a few minutes. Half way home, my MIL called me, in tears himself. Will had made himself throw up and she took his temperature and it was 101.6. I could hear him still screaming in the background. She wanted me to come back and get him. I hurried back, had to pack everything back up, while Will alternatively clung to me or sobbed as my MIL held him and I packed. When I got him home, I took his temperature - normal. The little buggar was so upset that he gave himself that temperature. It was a bad night.

We didn't try in November, but when we walked into my MIL's house on Thanksgiving, he started screaming. It took him a few minutes to calm down and even then, he was clingy and upset the entire two hours we were there. Neither of us could leave the room for even a second without him freaking out. He would have nothing to do with my MIL. We went over to my husband's aunt's house for the actual dinner itself, and he was fine there. He made himself at home, toddled all around, and went to everyone . . . but my poor MIL. He just seems to associate my MIL's house and my MIL herself with being left. This obviously upsets both my MIL and his great-grandma, who love this little boy desperately and would adore having him there whenever we were willing. They LIVE for time with this child.

So, next weekend is our proposed time away. The plan is (was?) to leave him Saturday morning and return Sunday morning. We would be gone for about 24 hours. I was really looking forward to it, M was really looking forward to it. My MIL was looking forward to having him.

I don't want to be selfish. Most of me feels as if this is just a temporary phase. He will not be this little or this attached to us forever. There will be a time that will come only too soon when he doesn't want to be with us. Part of me feels as if we just should change our plans and celebrate our anniversary with him.

The other part of me wonders if I am not just coddling and babying him too much. M is more of this school of thought and worries that we are creating a "Mama's Boy" and that it's not healthy. He also feels that we need some time together to just relax and hang out, which is true.

The other small piece of this is that I don't want my MIL to feel like the "bad" one that he seems to be associating her as. That's not fair to her. She is a kick-@ss grandma that anyone would be blessed to call their own.

I am going to ask our pediatrician when we are at Will's 15 month Well Baby check on Tuesday, but I am also to hear what other moms (and dads, too!) have done in similar situations. I don't want to exacerbate his fears of being left, but I also don't want to hinder his development. What would you do - or what have you done?


christine said...

I think you need to spend more time over there WITH him. Do not always leave him there. Once he is comfortable being there then start leaving for brief periods of time. then longer. I understand it is an hour drive so it may not be that easy.

Abc said...

What Christine said.

With DS, he spent his first night at the ILs when he was 5 weeks old. He's been going over there every weekend since he was 2 or 3 weeks old for the day. (They live 5 miles away or so). DD has yet to spend a night, but she's been going over there with DS ever since I can remember.

Not helpful, but I think it helps if you start young and keep at it. I think DS lives for Saturdays because he loves going over there and tearing up FIL's computer room.

But yeah, spend more time with Gramma. :)

Katie said...

Thanks, Ladies. We do go up there about once a month and my MIL comes to our house. He has been up there twice since the time he didn't want to stay. I am not sure how much we can increase that, what with her schedule and the hour drive, but I do think that will help. We'll have to figure something out.

Anonymous said...

Would it work to have Grandma come to your house while you are away? I understand she lives in the town where your hotel is located so convenience is an issue, but maybe Will would be happier on his own turf. Just a thought.........

Liz in GA

Katie said...

Liz, we have definitely thought about that. We would cancel our reservations at the hotel where she lives and then just find a more local place to our house. We have also thought about just going to dinner or out to a movie after Will is in bed to make the separation shorter.

good enough said...

I like Liz's idea, although it doesn't help with your hotel reservation...I would cancel, if it were me, and celebrate the anniversary with Will, or just go out for dinner and come home early. I usually indulged my kids' separation anxiety when they were little. FWIW, my oldest two are 9 and 7 and are very independent and self-confident - not "Mama's girls" at all, despite my coddling :)

Mazzy said...

Tough one! Sorry to hear that he is going through this, it BREAKS MY HEART to think about LM being so upset away from me. I wouldn't be able to enjoy my time away, worrying the whole 24 hours what was going on.

I love the idea of having your MIL coming to your house. That at least gives him HIS environment while adjusting to be away from you at the same time... there has to be comfort in home. Maybe it isn't ideal but it is practical, until he becomes more comfortable with the other.

And PS, I wouldn't worry about having a "Mama's boy." You are right, he'll only be this dependent on you once in his life!

HereWeGoAJen said...

I've always been of the opinion that you can't spoil a baby and Will is still a baby. If it were me, I'd probably rearrange the plans to accommodate his fear. Maybe you could have her stay at your house and you could leave after he's in bed? I don't know though, that doesn't give you much time.

Tracy said...

I think you have a couple good suggestions here...either try to spend some time together with him there before you leave him, or see if MIL can come to your home. He may feel more secure in a familiar environment with all his comforts.

Aside from that, I do NOT think you are creating a "mama's boy." I don't think that's possible with infants (and Will is still an infant, IMHO.) I think babies need to feel secure in their parent's love. With that said, I do also think it's healthy to have some time away from each other so that he/they don't become entirely reliant on you to be all things to them.

Scott and I have been having date nights since the babies were newborn (thank GOD my mom comes here so it's easy to do so...I know we are lucky) and I have one evening per week away from them, too, when they stay with their Daddy. It's made the separation anxiety much less, I believe.

You're a good mama to worry about this.

Red said...

I don't think that changing plans to suit him is spoiling him at all. He needs the reasurance of his Mummy at the moment in order to feel secure all through life. Small price to pay meanwhile. Maybe you could take him to the hotel with you overnight and then visit your MIL but not actually leave. Just to pave the way for an actual holiday again sometime next year. It is a tough one. Good luck.

Nicky said...

I'll second (third? fourth?) the comment about MIL coming to your house instead. My LL does great with babysitters at our house (his home turf?) but freaks out when we try to leave him at other people's houses. It's all about familiarity and comfort.

But, I'll warn you *against* the idea of leaving after he's asleep, unless you're absolutely positive that he won't wake while you're gone. Most experts agree that kids need the process of saying goodbye (and being promised that you will return). If he goes to sleep with you there, and wakes up with you gone, he'll not only freak out much much worse, but you'll also likely face several weeks of sleep issues. He won't want to go to sleep, **ever**, because he'll be afraid that you won't be there when he wakes up.

Abc said...

Nicky, I thought the same thing.

Debby said...

i say give it another go - as long as your MIL is up for it. I imagine he will eventually calm down - but the first few hours will be rough. Just remember that he will be fine and best of all - he won't remember you leaving when he is 5 years old. You are not scarring him for life. I've found that if me and my hubby are happy together and get our much needed alone time in, we are happier and better parents. And really that is what is best for Grayson.

Oh..and we celebrated our 10 year dating anniversary back in June. It was fun! The plan was to stay in DC for 2 nights, do a bunch of sight seeing and imbibing. Well..the weather STUNK with torrential rain, so we ended up doing only one night, but it was still great. Be sure to mention it's your 10 yr. anniv. anywhere you eat - we got free stuff out the wazoo at the restaurant we went to - dessert, free drinks and after dinner drinks too.

I hope it all works out for you and Will can separate from you without the stress!

Intrepidgirl said...

I agree about spending more time there with him. That's a great idea. And have grandma come over. You're going to have to do that a lot this week to get him ready for the weekend or else you should probably postpone the trip.

Change your reservation for after Xmas or NYE. Then spend as much time with grandma this month as possible so he stops associating you "abandoning" him with her and her home. Desensitize him over the course of December and he'll come around. Toys and bribes work great.

For what it's worth, my little guy goes to daycare and so he's gotten pretty good at goodbyes (he happily says bye-bye and waves or blows kisses). Sometimes he's all happy but Mommy is still sad :(