The Reality of Coping with Maternal Separation Anxiety

The Reality of Coping with Maternal Separation Anxiety

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It’s always been hard for me to leave my daughters and husband.

We are a tight-knit crew — the four of us.

In full honesty, I’ve been coping with maternal separation anxiety for the better part of the past 12 years.

When my girls were babies, I couldn’t part from them because, well, they were babies.

And when they were toddlers, I couldn’t part with them because I might miss the next big milestone. Plus, they weren’t easy to let me go then either.

And when they started school I couldn’t part ways with them because I always felt like I was the glue keeping us all together — homework, schedules, activities. Plus, we had such little time together after school.

And even now that they are in middle school, it’s STILL hard for me to part ways because emotionally they need my presence more than ever AND I like being with them. They’re really cool people.

I know I am not alone. Many of the women who have gone through the Abundant Mama Online Program over the years have also admitted to having this same feeling of separation anxiety.

Leaving our children is hard, whether it’s for work or a night out or a weekend away. 

Parting with them leaves us a feeling of loss. We are so deeply connected. They are a part of us as if they are a part of our body and being apart leaves us feeling a bit off — especially true for a brand new mom.

The Abundant Mama community consists of many highly sensitive and anxious moms to varying degrees so this is not all surprising. We empathize deeply. We FEEL things deeply. We love deeply. We are impacted and affected by everything and everyone’s emotions around us. And we experience anxiety and anxious feelings frequently — as most women do as they feel the weight of the responsibilities of raising a family and keeping a home.

We want our children to be safe. This is our ultimate mission.

And so we don’t relish in leaving that often.

The problem, though, is that we still really need to take time for ourselves and nourish ourselves so that we can feel energized, motivated and replenished to do it all over again tomorrow.

 

 

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So Why is Leaving So Hard?

Leaving our children is hard.

They love us and they aren’t afraid to let us know, which is why children don’t want to leave us and have their own separation anxiety.

And we feel a sense of guilt, too, for not being able to be with them when they need us.

And then there’s this: Finding good, reliable and quality babysitters can be a challenge and so we opt out of nights out. And not to mention costly and difficult to arrange with busy schedules.

We know the kids are fine without us but when we are together we all feel safe and secure.

But that’s not the real issue here.

What I find most surprising about the moms I’ve been working with in the Abundant Mama program … most of them are more than fine with not leaving.

They’re fine with staying. MORE than fine with staying.

Longtime Abundant Mama Catherine G. said this:

“YES, we stay…. through the challenges. Through the difficulties. Through the mess of it all. We stay… because we KNOW there is ABUNDANCE in the most challenging moments. It is all in our perspective of how we CHOOSE to view those challenges.”

Abundant Mama isn’t built on moms leaving, but on moms staying.

It isn’t designed for moms heading off in another direction. It’s designed for moms who want to be fully present in their lives.

The Abundant Mama Way isn’t built on moms desperate to get away but rather desperate to find joy and peace in staying through the hard stuff and the messy chaos of motherhood.

And because we nourish ourselves in so many ways beyond “leaving” that leaving really isn’t something we think much about and that is perfectly OK.

I trust that as moms we know when the time is right to leave our children and how to do it.

We don’t need society to tell us we’re hovering or over-parenting or being helicopters if we know that our children still need us.

So maybe leaving isn’t even the issue.

Maybe it’s the staying that’s the issue.

Most of us are introverts and homebodies so being home is where we’d rather be anyway.

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So how do we nourish ourselves if we never leave?

For many years, I hardly left the house. I either felt too much love or adoration for my girls — or just too tired to go anywhere. Or, there was just no way to leave with my husband’s work schedule and no family to help.

So I created my own way to get that quiet reflection and nourishing soul-care I needed without having to leave my family.

And even now when I can leave more … I find that I don’t really want to.

Just last weekend, I joined a bunch of strangers to meditate. This was so strange and freeing for me to do on a Sunday night but it also grounded me in the fact that I really love returning home, in my cozy clothes surrounded by my people. I return with a more grateful heart and clear mind — and that’s always the reason we need to go out in the world and just be ourselves.

The work we do in the Abundant Mama Project IS all I ever really need to feel amazing and joyful and replenished to get up and do it all over again tomorrow but I also have learned that going on personal retreats in community fills me up as well. No matter HOW I do this inner work, it feels so good.

The soul-care — and the thinking we put into being an Abundant Mama — brings us the kind of peace and joy we need to maintain our strong and calm selves.

If anything, I wake up every day a beginner of how I can sink into my life a little more today rather than trying to escape it.

The longer I do this work, the more present I become into who I am right now and the beauty all around me.

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How do we know if we should stay or go?

Whatever we choose — leaving or staying — it must feel good and nourish us so that we are absolutely motivated to get out of bed and be a mom, wife and all those other roles we adhere to again tomorrow.

We can’t be in one place and want to be in another.

It just doesn’t work that way.

Separation anxiety is just anxiety and that is just feelings.

We can leave if we must leave.

But we must make peace with our choices and embrace the moment as it is without guilt or regret.

So when we are home we have to work hard at being present and joyful where we are.

And when we do leave and head out into a new experience, we must surrender and trust that we can be strong enough — and that our family is strong enough — to handle our absence as well. And this can absolutely be the baby steps we need to take in the journey of reducing that separation anxiety.

NO matter where we are or what we’re doing, may we be fully present and happy there.

I carry love for my girls with me no matter where I am. And, I can absolutely leave them more. And perhaps I should.

 

But for now … I’m more than happy with staying.

See you in the next Abundant Mama session. We begin on Nov. 13. This class is going to be EXPANSIVE for you. I promise. JOIN THE WAITLIST NOW

XO

Shawn

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Shawn Fink - Abundant MamaFrom Our Founder

I created The Abundant Mama Project to inspire overwhelmed, busy mothers to slow down and let go of the worries and concerns that are holding them back from experiencing joyful motherhood. Read More »
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