We all know a lot about separation anxiety and how difficult it can be to leave your screaming child with another caregiver.  I’ve dropped both of my babies off at daycare, before I quit my job just over a year ago.  Though I know both of my children would eventually calm down and enjoy playing (or so the teachers told me), it still can tug at my heart strings leaving unhappy children.

In stark contrast to separation anxiety, I’ve lately been feeling more Separation Celebration! Let’s start with a definition:

Separation Celebration – proud, happy goodbyes, when you see your child excited to leave you to experience new and different things with other children and teachers.

I first experienced this last week, when I left my 3 year old daughter with her swimming teacher for her class, after being in the water with her for the first few class sessions.  First off I was happy NOT to get in the chlorinated water, and second I have been feeling that my daughter is ready for more time away from me.  Since she had some difficulty listening to the teacher in previous swimming classes, we weren’t sure how it would go when she’d be on her own.  With some apprehension – and forewarning from the teacher that there may be tears – I held her hand and walked her to her class.  She simply let go of my hand and went to her teacher – all without any tears, screaming, or protests!

I was impressed! I walked away from the class, so she couldn’t see me, but covertly spied on her from afar.  I saw my daughter happily kicking, paddling, jumping in, and splashing around according to her teacher’s instructions.  I could not have been prouder!  After class, she ran (whoops – walk around the pool sweetie) back to me, happy as a clam.  Later in the week she told me she now can put her ear in the water. She’s proud of what she’s learning too.

My second separation celebration also occurred last week, when I dropped both kids in childcare at the Y, so I could go to a body flow class (tai chi, yoga, pilates mix set to music). While my 17 month old son was a little upset, my daughter was excited to go play. After a wonderful class, I picked them up and we hung around the play area for snack time and more playing.  My daughter met some other kids around 3 years old, and said, “Look mom, I’m making friends.”  Again, I was thrilled to see her having fun and enjoying the company of her “friends.”

My firstborn is growing up for sure!

It is so rewarding to see and experience your child coming into his or her own.  To be able to get dressed, use the bathroom, eat, and get ready to leave the house with minimal help (and tantrums) is a HUGE accomplishment. I even see big sister telling little brother how to behave. “You don’t throw your food on the floor” is what she has been saying lately.

She’s definitely ready for  3 year old preschool – something I hope to have her by Fall, when I hope to be back at work in either a part time or full time capacity.  It’s reassuring, knowing my husband and I have done a lot of the heavy-lifting of parenting (and will continue to do so), that has helped prepare our daughter for the next phase – going to school. I’m excited for her to learn from teachers other than me and Daddy O (or other relatives and babysitters) because it really takes a village, as they say, to raise a child.

The separation is good for both parent and child. I love my time away to get out and recharge. And as parents, we need our date nights for a chance to reconnect and not only talk all about the kids. We owe it to ourselves as moms to take care of our OWN needs too in order to be a happy, healthy mom and wife, who can set a good example for our children.