A Mother's Plea For Help ~

“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” -Lena Horne
We often think that admitting struggle is a sign of weakness, but we all struggle sometimes. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. We all need help sometimes. Acknowledging this is not a sign of weakness, but struggling alone is a choice to grow weak.
Dear Friends,
This will be a very different entry than what I usually write.  This entry is really a request for help, ideas, suggestions, empathy, a show of love by offering anything useful to help me help my son with his separation anxiety.  Let me share with you my situation...
My son is 5 and has been going to preschool 4 days a week for 3 1/2 hours.  The school he goes to is really a wonderful place.  It is whimsical and small and community oriented. His teacher is the best.  She is kind, compassionate, loving, and she loves what she does.  I love her.  He only has 9 kids in his class and there are at least 2 or 3 adults present at all times. 
 At the beginning of the school year, Liam was very excited to go and had no problems with Jason or I saying goodbye as he enjoyed his time there on his own.  Things have changed quite a bit.  In fact, for the past few months it has been nothing but a struggle for him to go, stay on his own and let me go on my way.  I have been staying for as long as I can in the hopes of helping him through this phase.  Mind you, I always have Lila with me so staying there for an hour and a half is the maximum amount of time I can stay before Lila and I both loose it.  Truly,  I am frustrated, exhausted, sad, and embarrassed by this all.  When I try to leave, the anxiety ensues. When we have tried to employ the help of the teachers and staff, Liam runs around me away from them, hugs onto my leg and a full on meltdown begins.  It's all quite horrible if you ask me.  Everyone tells me I just have to peel him off of me, push him away and let him cry it out.  They tell me he'll be fine as soon as I leave and they will call if he is not.  I want to make clear that it is not a little crying that I have a problem with. What I have a problem with is the peel-him-off-push-him-away or hold-him back part.  It just does not feel right to me.  It is now to the point were he says he does not want to go to school the night before.  I am now at the point where I dread the morning and taking him to school. I am at a point where I feel pretty close to done with all of this and I feel pretty alone in it too.  
My question is:
Is the above mentioned method the only way to help Liam gain confidence in his ability to be on his own for a bit without me or Jason in the safe environment of his school?
Is there another way to help him with this experience and growth process?  
Am I crazy to question this method or to think that there has got to be a better way?
Please Help.
Love One Tired and Frustrated Mama,


  1. Not that I am a mom..but this used to happen to me as well when I was in kindergarten. Turns out it wasn't my anxiety causing the problem..it was my moms. Because the baby comes from the mom we are so intensly attached. Even at 34 I can feel still my mothers sadness. Liam is only 5 he has no real reason for anxiety. He is feeling it from you. Until you "let go" and know that life is perfect as it is...he won't relax. Tough love is the best thing. He needs to go and enjoy his time with other little people and you need the time with lila as well. I find accupuncture is helpful in "letting go" something to think about.

  2. Hi Mama,
    This is so hard. It is so conflicting as moms to try to consider what we think should be happening, or even what is "developmentally appropriate" when the reality of our flesh and blood child is defying all of it.
    I have had Maple home for almost 2 years. She is 6. She went to a lovely small kinderhaus and enjoyed it and thrived for awhile. And then she didn't anymore. So I kept her home for a year and got some excellent in home help for her and Eider for 10 hours a week. And then in the fall we tried sending her to our local small Waldorf schools kindergarden. She lasted 3 weeks and then none of us could take it anymore. The anxiety that she was experiencing was so extreme and coloring every other part of our lives so adversely that we brought her back home. And then we spent over 2 months trying to recover. She had some hostel and regressive behavior and felt poorly about herself. The whole thing was fucking heart breaking. And it is still hard now. And she is adamant that she does not want to go back.
    But slowly she is warming up to the idea of going to first grade next year. And we are focusing on the things that bolster her and are making time for more of those things in her life.
    And there are a lot of parents, including my own, who think that we have just caved to her. Like it is some kind of battle and we are letting the kid win. And that shit is embedded so deeply in the culture that it is hard to get away from. There are some very tender young people out there today. Who maybe need things that are much different from the norm.
    I do not really have any advice. All I know is that I have to listen to my gut with my kids. And sometimes that means knowing that they can handle the challenge and that it is appropriate, and at other times it means re-thinking the whole thing and making a change.
    Just know, you are loved and you are not alone and that it is a high, high calling to parent consciously.

  3. Marcia - I feel your pain because I was there with my daughter, Exactly that age and separating for a preschool she loved. It is a hard time to get through but the most important thing is for you to know he is in a good, loving, safe place and transmit that feeling to him. He needs to absorb from you your confidence in him, confidence in the place and knowledge that he will be fine. You do not have to do the peel away procedure. Make a plan with one of the teachers and do not stay so long. Let him know that you will stay through singing or whatever starts the day, then you will give him a big hug, say goodbye for awhile and then be back right after..... whatever comes before you arrive. Tell him you know it makes him sad to say goodbye. And you need to know that it is the goodbye that is torture for him and once it is over and you are gone, he can regroup and gain strength form the teacher who will transition him - hopefully the same one each day. The key is your confidence in him and then your trust that he will be well cared for. This too will pass, I can promise you that.

  4. Wow, Marcia... it is a hard one.
    I agree with not staying as long. Coming from a Mama who worked in preschool for a long time... it is true that most of the time kids are fine once Mama is gone. I think talking to him about how you will go in and do... and then leave is a good plan. I also think that if you really want to see if he is fine right after you leave, that the shorter amount of time you stay the better.
    I know you pretty well and from what you have said and written, I think that Liam also has the gift of perception and intuitiveness(sp?), I'm sure that your anxiety is something he feels, so the less exposure to that the better....and if you trust his caregivers than you can ask them honestly later if he does well after you go. If he does, keep it short and sweet and this phase will pass... if he is mopey and sad or uncharacteristic during the time he is there, then maybe you should rethink this situation.
    The biggest thing is to trust yourself and your amazing instincts. If you consistantly stay a few minutes and leave and he continually struggles... listen to that, but give it a week or so...
    This situation reminds me of weaning(probably b/c I just weaned my baby in the last week or so) if you are not completely sure of what you want as a Mama...they feel that uncertainty and will capitalize what they feel they can...but if you go into it with confidence and know that if for no other reason than you know you need for him to be at school for a certain amount of time, or that you are ready to not be nursing anymore, they will sense that certainty as well.
    I don't know if that makes sense... but I hope it does.
    regardless of anything else, know that I love you and think you are amazing. You will do what is right for you and your child and in 10 years none of this will seem nearly as important! You will come through on the other side wiser and with your integrity intact.
    Much love and light to you, my sweet sweet friend! : ) ♥♥♥

  5. Thank you all for your time and thoughtful replies. All the suggestions offered has helped. From all the ideas suggested, we have come up with a plan and have been trying that out. I will keep you posted on how things go. As for now, there has been great progress, so we both feel encouraged. I will share the details of our found way and share that if it works.

    With Gratitude,



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