Twice a month, she is with her mom for a bit.
Usually, related to separating from me, there is no issue as the visits to her mom are very short. She might say she’ll miss me, but her focus is, understandably, on the excitement of seeing her mom and spending time with her step-siblings.
This time, however, I noticed a couple things before our exchange…
In the morning, as we headed to a tennis tournament several hours before, she brought her favorite blanket
Later, as we walked, she wanted to hold my hand. I usually reach for hers.
In the car, she asked me, “Are you going to miss me?”
Right or wrong, I took these small things as subtle ways of her subconscious mind telling me that she needed reassurance. It’s easy, especially with her as she can be very independent, to assume that she is fine and to overlook the emotions involved in such visits. Never having experienced it, I can only empathize and try to imagine that it must be significant.
So, she got extra “I love you” comments and some clear ideas of the fun things we would be doing when she returns. In the car, I reached back and held her hand while talking. We also tentatively set up a playdate with her best friend.
For me, the reminder is that just because a child seems fine on the outside, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t going through emotions and questions on the inside, even if it’s at a subconscious level. This is true even if they’ve been marinating in a loving, stable environment their whole lives as she has been with me.
Sometimes, just like when they were toddlers, they need to know that if they venture out or if they are feeling emotions, that the rock of love is there for them.
No matter what.