This was supposed to be a post celebrating a milestone: Terence and I went away for a night without the kids! He had a Fulbright orientation trip to the Negev Desert which looked like a great opportunity to finally get some space from Hannah and Margaret. My sister-in-law was kind and brave enough to offer overnight childcare, and we finally booked our first babysitter. Success!
….but then the reports started to roll in. This morning on the walk to school, an old lady who has started (after two months) to smile at my kids said: “much better this morning!” Another woman brought her dog over and explained that she had “tried to cheer your kids up with my cute puppy” yesterday. Another JAIS parent told us that yesterday’s question of the day in kindergarten had been: “Are you happy today?” and Hannah had written her name under “No.” And then we saw a friend, who pulled no punches and told us that our children wailed all the way to school yesterday and caused quite a scene.
I haven’t yet gotten the full story from Anne; in some ways I’m afraid to ask. But I’m struggling with guilt for leaving my kids behind, and then frustration that they are so incredibly clingy. They were not like this at home. Both kids used to run into school with scarcely a backwards look. Babysitters were an exciting departure from the routine. But all that changed when we started to dismantle their familiar life.Since the summer they have been clinging, hard. I know — duh. It makes perfect sense. Terence and I are home to them. Some days it probably feels like we are all they have. But their level of intense need — for attention, reassurance, contextualizing — is overwhelming.
It’s a terrible feeling, to have parent and child mental health diametrically opposed. I get a night of fun and relaxation, they get trauma. They get comfort and companionship, I go crazy. This will get easier, right? Right? I will get back on the horse. We have plans to go out again sans kids next week.