|Father and son.|
It may seem silly or even selfish but when my husband first suggested taking our son to a football match, alone, and without me, I was both jealous and insanely worried. Having been browsing his FA Cup betting on the laptop when the idea occurred to him, he couldn't understand why I was overreacting. To be honest, initially, neither could I.
My husband correctly pointed out how much I had been saying I need an afternoon to myself, that I hated football and had always been proud of what a hands-on father he was. All true. But I was irrationally scared about both my child's safety and the idea that his world would now have a piece of it of which I was no longer part. It sounds ridiculous, I know. And it was a reaction so unlike me. I have always heavily promoted the notion of dads, as much as situationally possible, being hands-on and involved parents. That is because I have read numerous reports indicating that this is beneficial to both dad and child.
Similarly, I have never been possessive of my son or felt that I was the only one who could fulfil his needs. However, it appears I fell apart when the first significant separation occurred, It was concerning for both myself and my husband, who had never seen me act like this. Whilst I tried to restrain myself from appearing worried or voicing my irrational thoughts, he could sense something was wrong.
So, I decided - as I often do in these situation – to call a few of my closest friends, who are also mothers, and see what advice they had. I was relieved to discover that I was not alone in my jarring reaction to my husband's suggestion of taking our son to a football match. One friend, who is normally quite level-headed, told me she once cried all the way to a wedding when she and her husband left their youngest with his grandparents for the first time. This friend referred to our reaction as separation anxiety. I was sceptical. I had experienced this condition from my son, who - from about nine-months to year - burst into tears the minute I left a room. However, as the doctor informed me at the time, separation anxiety was the result of a developing brain coping with the concept of absence. This was not a young mother getting all flustered about her husband bonding with her son in some chilly football stadium. But my friend was insistent, outlined both my behaviour and corrected my assumption that separation anxiety was only possible from the child. Even though this knowledge didn't alter my feelings drastically, the knowledge was reassuring that this wasn't selfishness, but a biological reaction.
Moreover, my husband was lovely and offered to watch the football match at home with both of us, citing that he could enjoy some betting on his iPad whilst the match was on. Alternatively, he offered that I could go with them to the game. However, having decided that I cannot, and will not, stop my son and husband bonding, I let them go. I am not going to lie and say it was easy or I handled it gracefully. But I am sure it will get easier. Plus, seeing the flushed cheeks and smiley faces of both my husband and son on their return made the discomfort all worthwhile.
As a mother, have you ever felt separation anxiety when your child has been spending time with their father without you?
*Written by Claire Thomas*