As the dad to a breastfed baby I’m pretty used to being the least favourite parent. I’ll admit that at times it’s bothered me and I haven’t liked the fact our daughter VERY CLEARLY prefers my wife. But it is what it is. Then all of a sudden we’ve entered the wonderful world of bastard separation anxiety! Now I’m the walking physical form of Satan and our toddler is a koala bear. Or koala bearby. See what I did there? Like a baby, but a koala? I’m totally making koala bearby a thing by the end of this post.
Separation Anxiety – Why Is Our Toddler Suddenly a Koala Bearby
Before I actually start, I will just say that if you’ve arrived at this post on the lookout for advice to help deal with separation anxiety, then chances are you’ve arrived at the wrong post. This isn’t going to be advice. Or maybe it will be. I haven’t decided yet.
This is basically going to be a massive moan about how much of a knobhead our toddler can be at times. So I’m just letting you know to save any disappointment that you’re still going to be as fucked as we are by the end of this post.
Right. Let’s move on.
By this point I’m pretty used to all the usual things you might find being the person without any boobs to a breastfed baby. Cries at the sight of me in the night. Looks of complete disdain. Curious bemusement at my useless nipples. You know, the usual stuff.
But recently things have been taken to a whole new level of knobery. And the worst part is, whilst I might want to moan about all of this, it’s my wife who likely has it the hardest. Just don’t tell her that.
It’s Frustrating for me But let’s be honest, it’s a lot worse for my wife
As hard as it is for me to suddenly have a toddler who thinks I’m looking to murder her, it’s even more frustrating for my wife. We can all be sat there eating dinner together as the loving family that we are. Honestly. My wife will load a spoon – because Isabelle has suddenly lost the ability to feed herself – with some lovely carrots and Isabelle thinks it’s wonderful. Then I take the spoon and do the same thing. I get a different response.
My wife then gets up because maybe she would like to go to the toilet. You know, biology and all that. Meanwhile Isabelle has an emotional meltdown because the thought of being left with her FATHER OF 20 MONTHS for roughly one minute is equal to being hung, drawn, quartered and shot out of a canon.
Rather than allow my wife to go off in peace, Isabelle comes along by any means necessary.
And obviously all of this separation anxiety brings along all the mum guilt for my wife. It’s incredibly frustrating to have a toddler want to cling to you all day. You get short with them, agitated and you’re just not quite the loving parent that you want to be. Then you get guilty over the fact you just want to have a bath alone for 10 minutes without them screaming at the bottom of the stairs. It’s hard work. And obviously it’s a tad bit annoying for me too. But I’m always hard done by.
Separation Anxiety has Made my Stay-at-home Dad days a Little bit harder
In total fairness to Isabelle, she hasn’t been an utter nightmare when my wife is in work – bare in mind she’s out of the house for almost 14 hours, so you’d think that would be enough to put Isabelle into an emotional coma. No. Instead she pretty much accepts that she’s being left with me and moves on with her life. That is until she sees ANYTHING that remotely reminds her of the fact she has a mother.
If there’s a glass of Diet Coke on the side of the kitchen, she will point it out and cry “Mam.” If she sees a photo of Rachel, or even one of boobs – not that I look at photos of boobs whilst Rachel is in work. I just follow the odd breastfeeding account on Instagram. Then again, she’ll cry “Mam.” And she’ll even go as far as going upstairs to pull open a drawer in which she knows there are photos of her mother in. She will then point at said photo and basically say to me “Piss off to work dad and bring mam home!”
Let’s just say I’ve gotten to the point where her crying over her mum being in work does very little to pull at my heart strings.
We’re assuming that Separation Anxiety is only a phase, and she’ll be back to normal soon enough! Right!?
We’re trying to stay optimistic on this one, but I do have my doubts. Hopefully in a few weeks time – now that’s pushing it – she’ll be back to normal and she won’t be under the assumption that I’m looking to hurl her down a banking.
We’re pretty used to her going through these sorts of phases. Whenever she’s ill or going through a mental leap she’s always a lot more attached to my wife and suddenly she’s a koala bearby again. Have I made koala bearby a thing yet?
Believe it or not, I do have some advice on separation anxiety
My only advice with separation anxiety is to try and not take it personally. I’m excellent at ignoring my own advice though and at times I take everything personally. I’m even going to take it personally if you don’t message me about this post. Why wouldn’t you? Wasn’t it good enough for you? Am I really that horrible you don’t want to talk to me? Jesus.
But I shouldn’t take things personally. I’m just insecure and Isabelle is just a toddler doing what toddlers do best, and that’s being a slight dick whilst they work out what’s going on.
Also, I find the more time I spend with Isabelle without my wife present, the better she is when my wife is back home. It’s almost like she’s reminded that I’m not a MASSIVE psychopath – just a slight one – and she can be left alone with me for longer than 60 seconds. I guess I could call that a win.
Oh, and if you want some more helpful advice on all this, not that what I’ve said has been helpful, then this might be worth a read.