“Are you leaving me?”

On the mornings I take my son to daycare (2-3 times a week) I always take our things to the truck first and then come back in to collect TheBoy (2 yrs). He was playing with some toys in the living room while I gathered up our daily haul. After I made my coffee and had everything in hand I turned to see him standing in the doorway, his Woody doll held against his chest, looking deeply concerned and saddened. “Are you leaving me?” he asked somberly. Instantly a new emotion I can’t explain took over and my heart struggled to react.

We’ve done this morning routine since before he’s capable of remembering. Why on this particular morning he thought I was leaving him I have no idea; but this was very real to him. In that moment the fear of abandonment dominated his emotions.

Me: dropping everything and kneeling next to him. “Aww, buddy. Do you think I’m leaving you?” I manage to say with tears forming as I read his expression, the sincerity in his eyes and understanding the depth of his emotion.
TB: shaking his head yes and accepting my open arms as I pulled him in close and sat him on my lap.
Me: rubbing his back, “I can see you are upset and sad. I could never, ever leave you TB. I love you so incredibly much the very thought of leaving you makes me very, very sad. I will always be right next to you forever. Come here TB, let’s have a hug.”

And we sat on the kitchen floor, hugging. Me sniffling and him refilling on confidence. After our embrace we stood up, TB wearing a smile and excited to see his friends at daycare, and went about our day. I could have brushed off the notion of me leaving and how it was affecting him. But I chose to acknowledge it, accept it, and work through it with him and in the meantime expose my emotions to him as well. I think in that moment that made all the difference in the world for both of us.

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