So according to the article I found, Mom Challenge number 3 is separation anxiety (yours):
For weeks Kathie Papera, 36, dreaded 4-year–old Ella's first day of preschool. "I pictured her crying and holding on to my feet," says the Manhattan Beach, CA, mom. To her surprise, however, Ella, who is usually of the hide-behind-mom's-leg variety of shy, stopped acknowledging her mother's existence after about 10 minutes with her new teachers and friends. "At some point Ella ran up to me and whispered in my ear, 'It's okay, Mommy, you can go now,'" Papera says, so she slowly backed out of the room and cried the entire drive home.
Similarly, in Tanis Miller's blog post, "To India and Beyond" she talks about her first born's first day at school:
"Letting go was hard to do that morning. It was only with time and the arrival of the little yellow school bus bringing her home that I was able to exhale. My baby was home.".
It's funny, I believe it's in these situations that you have to allow your head's logic to rule over your heart's parental instincts. A hard habit to break when you've been practicing it every minute of every day since your child was born. A new habit must form, from the first time with a baby sitter, then with each school etc. The answer of how to cope according to the article is thus:
For starters, recognize that your emotions are separate from your child's. "You have to know that what you're feeling is your own anxiety and sadness and not theirs," Raskin says. Even if your child is bawling and freaking out, you must realize two things: (1) He'll probably be fine five minutes after you leave (most kids are), and (2) the challenge of adapting to a new environment is one of those life experiences that will help him grow and develop. "If you block the separation, you end up fostering excessive dependency," Raskin says. "Remind yourself that your goal is to raise a happy, independent child." And when you break down in tears anyway in spite of all the logical reasons not to, go sit in your car and have a good cry. "It's okay to feel sad. You're grieving the loss of your baby on some level, even if that baby is 18," Raskin says. "But by the same token, you get a little piece of your life back!" Maybe you get to take an unhurried trip to the supermarket or read the newspaper — the whole newspaper — for the first time in years. "Your child's independence is a mixed blessing," Raskin says. "Find the gift that's in it for you."
Miller goes on to say:
"I'm not sure I know how to let them go. This time, there will be no school bus to bring them back to me. This time, I have to trust they will be able to find their way back to me on their own... As I swallowed, I realized, I am not scared for their futures. I am scared for mine. All of these years I've held the comfort of the familiar around me like a warm cloak to keep fear at bay and now I find myself standing at another precipice, that warm cloak slipping off my shoulders."
I have to hand it to my mum and dad. I understand how it must be extremely hard to 'let go' (dad if you're reading this, "insert joke here") and I wonder how I'll handle it when the time comes. My mother will always be my mother, my father always my father, and they will always have a level of care for me deeper than any other relationship, however, gradually as I grew up, they let go of certain aspects of the parental role, until the day came that the 'parent' relationship became more of a friendship.
They have kept me safe, provided wisdom and guidance, and watched me make 'mistakes' and deal with the consequences, never telling me what to do. The same goes for all of my choices - they might think they're a terrible idea! However they wouldn't dream of trying to talk me out of them, rather say: "That's our daughter, the crazy one!".
One area of my life in which I appreciate this the most, is my relationship with my husband. They never interfere, and most importantly, they completely understand that my husband and I come before our respective families. This, I feel, is the ultimate acceptance of 'letting go'.
I think this is where hobbies play a part in a happy, fulfilled life. I'm sure my mum would agree with me when I say that her countless hobbies where she can indulge in her creative side has kept her too busy to be sad or worried. Gardening, crochet, dog walks and beach combing are just a few of my family's shared interests.
On the other side of the coin, I do feel that my parents have "done their bit" and now it's my turn. I would never expect free babysitting or other services. Yet they and I know if there is any help required, we are here for each other.
So, I shall remind myself, everyday from now, that my goal is to raise a happy and independent child, encouraging them to be themselves and with confidence. As proud as I am to be this little lad's mum, if I can maintain Lorraine's hobbies and interests as well as being 'mum', then I think having other focuses could work out to be the key to a healthy balance. Easier said than done? Yes probably, but it's a happy goal to work towards. Plus if any worries I might have are fueled into gardening, playing music and crocheting, I'll be surrounded by gorgeous handmade blankets and cushions in a beautiful, well-maintained garden, where I can just be 'me'. Funny, that, as we have an on-going joke in my family, where I am not referred to by name, but by my relationship with others; "I know you, you're AJ's wife"... "Ah! You must be JK's daughter!"...
I've yet to hear "You're 'little lad's mother aren't you?" though...