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I understand what has been written about separation anxiety; the separation of mother and infant for long periods.
During those not-so-informed days of the 1970’s, I was in a maternity hospital in NZ awaiting the drawn-out birth of my daughter. I had to leave my 18 month old son with his paternal grandparents who were undemonstrative and didn’t believe in cuddling children for fear of passing on germs. My husband of course, was built in the same mould although not as quite as bad as his mother. He wasn’t a hands-on dad, even refusing to change nappies or push a pram. I can still see my father-in-law holding my small son, as I looked longingly out of the hospital window, yearning to run out and hold that little boy close to me. That troubled face, so bewildered, so anxious, still haunts me.
In those days children were not allowed in to maternity wards to visit their mothers, (who knows why?) and two weeks is an eternity for a toddler, especially one as close to me as my son was. When I returned home with my baby daughter, my son would not let me out of his sight, following me from room to room. At night he suffered terrible nightmares for a few months, waking up screaming and clutching me. Things improved but my son did not like to be separated from me, and if he was for any reason, became distraught. I took him to a child psychologist when he was five, because he was still clinging to me. The psychologist took him into another room and spent some time alone with my son. Afterwards, he told me that my son was an intelligent and well adjusted little boy, but that his father needed to spend quality time with him. Looking back, I can see that my husband should have been at that meeting with me, but he wasn’t interested in attending. And after the consultation, when he did decide to spend some time with our son, I found out later, that my husband constantly berated him. True to his nature, our son never complained at the time.
My son’s birth was extremely difficult for the both of us, so much so, that after a quick cuddle he was wrapped up and taken away for 24 hours to rest. He wasn’t even washed first, so tired was he. Still, when they brought him to me the next day, I bonded with him immediately, and I perceived a little grin on his beautiful little face as I purred over him. My son and I have remained very close right through his childhood, teenage years, up until his marriage in his early thirties. Now that he is married with a beautiful wife and two gorgeous little boys, we still have a close bond which never interferes with his own little family. Our experience has made him a devoted husband and father, and he still hates being away from home. I think that he scores highly on the emotional intelligence scale, and perhaps this has predisposed him to being an extremely sensitive person to others’ emotional needs. It hasn’t been an easy ride for him though, because anxiety and insecurity often surface. However, I am proud of him because he has learned to deal with it without resorting to the intervention of medication.