I could sense it unfolding even though I had personally never experienced it before. The extra long hug. The tightness of the tiny arms around my neck. The trickle of tears that started to roll down her face, slowly at first, but then gushing with intensity. The refusal to let go. The pulling of my arm in the opposite direction of where we were headed. Followed by the inevitable words . . .

“No. I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you, Mama.”

And sometimes, her twin sister would join in too, and I would be torn in the middle with both my daughters tugging at both my arms, crying and pleading in unison.

“No. I don’t want to go. I want to stay with you, Mama.”

While my twins didn’t experience any back-to-school anxiety on their first day of junior kindergarten or even at the start of school this year, they are now starting to experience separation anxiety at 5 years old. They don’t want me leaving themanywhere. And even though they have each other, it doesn’t make a differenceit is Mama they both want.

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I have witnessed other moms deal with separation anxiety with their own kids, but I soon realized how completely different the whole experience feels when it’s your kids and you are the mom going through it.

For an introverted mom like myself, my daughters’ anxiety had involuntarily catapulted all of us into the spotlight. Eyes were suddenly alerted to the commotion taking place and turned our way. Eyes that looked with curiosity and surprise. Eyes that stared with relief that it wasn’t their child doing this. Eyes that conveyed sympathy, and eyes that revealed empathy because they could relate. Silently, those moms were saying, We know what you’re going through. We feel your struggle.

Still, there was sometimes that feeling of being alone.

No, you don’t quite understand my struggle because you don’t have twins, I remember thinking more than once . . . because it’s just different with twins. Twins feed off each other and that made the whole situation exponentially more intense.

The first time one of these episodes happened, I scoured the internet for articles on how to ease your child’s separation anxiety. I tried some of the techniques I’d read about, hoping it would rectify things, but nothing seemed to make a difference. Things would be fine for a bit, but then the situation repeated itself. I never knew what each new day would bring. I also talked to some of my friends who had experienced separation anxiety with their own kids. The common thread was that if nothing else, it will just get better with time.

But, can I be honest? I didn’t know if I could go through this ad nauseum . . . times two.

Because every mom who has gone through this, and who is still going through this, knows how emotionally exhausting and heart-wrenching it can be. That inevitable moment when you have to pry your crying, screaming child off you and into the arms and hands of another person and turn and walk away. And no matter how lovely that other person may be, no matter how much you trust that other person to handle the situation and ease your child’s anxiety, at the end of the day that person is still not mama.

And mama is the only person your child wants at that moment.

Every time my twins started to feel anxious and cried and begged me to not leave them, it made me feel anxious, tearful, and desperate too. They were pleading with me as much as I was pleading with them to do the reverse. And in the end, it left all of us feeling depleted because I was trying so hard to handle something I clearly did not know how to . . . while others looked on.

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And slowly but surely, there crept in that feeling of incompetency that many of us moms feel so deeply but don’t like to admit.

In many instances, I was also left wondering, if I had made the right decision by forcing/bribing/cajoling/coaxing (insert any synonym here) my twins to face their anxiety and fear.

In spite of what the “how-to” articles suggest or what other moms may advise, I’m really not sure which approach is the best approach for my particular situation. Like a scientist trying to figure out a solution to a problem, I am a mama trying to figure out how best to ease my daughters’ angst and help them understand that I’m always with them even if I’m not physically with them at the moment.

I’m still trying. We’re still trying.

Until then, you’ll likely see me at the school bus stop, or dance class, or gymnastics class with my twins trying to figure things out. Just don’t stare too hard, please.

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Wendy C

Wendy C has been married over a decade to her husband. They have three children together. She has been published on Scary MommyThe Globe & Mail,  Filter Free Parents and the Yummy Mummy Club.  In her spare time, she creates custom cakes and cupcakes at Wendy’s Cake Shoppe.

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