My little guy is 4 and his world is changing rapidly. He’s trying to navigate through some pretty big emotional storms lately and life’s been rougher than usual. Levi has always been sensitive to his surroundings and has always been very, very attached to his mama. These characteristics ebb and flow as he passes through new stages of development. When he was a baby, any little sound would wake him up. When he was a toddler, he was nervous if larger groups of people were around and would often hide or cling to me with apprehension. If he’s in his car seat for longer than half an hour, he’s usually pulling on his straps screaming to get out, as he despises feeling contained.
Like me in many ways, he prefers to be at home and some days even going to the grocery store is a battle for him, because he just can’t stand to leave his comfort zone. And as frustrating as that can be sometimes as his mama (because let’s face it, I love being home, but some days getting OUT of the house is what actually saves my sanity), I know where he is coming from. If I could, I’d stay in my pajamas all day and eat homemade muffins too. But that’s not reality…I digress.
Lately, he’s been experiencing full-tilt, dare I say “extreme” separation anxiety from me. Unfortunately, I’ve had to work a few times this past week and the anxiety about my departure would escalate as each afternoon approached. Even though he would be at home with Michael, he still was so upset to know that I was leaving. His whole body cried, he clung onto me for dear life and had such a look of worry and dread in his eyes. Even on the days when I wasn’t working, he would nervously ask me several times a day, “Do you have to go to work today, Mommy?”
So, in an attempt to stave off some of his worry yesterday, we made a “Mommy’s Heart”. I cut out two heart shaped pieces of red felt and we stuffed it with wool bits and lavender from the garden and I put in a few drops of an essential oil blend that I wear. He helped me stitch it up and happily put it around his neck. I told him that he can wear it whenever he wants to feel close to me when I am not home. Off the cuff, I made up a little rhyme for him: “This is a heart so Levi knows that Mommy loves him wherever he goes.”
Michael said he rubbed it and smelled it all night long and that he went to bed wearing it. Today, he hung it up on his hook at bathtime because he didn’t want it to get wet, but put it back on when he got dressed. Yesterday, his eyes showed me all of the ache and strife he was feeling. Today, they showed me signs of reassurance and trust, happiness and love.
Our kids take our hearts from the moment they are born and live within them so deeply as they grow. One day he will understand what those words really mean. For now, he can hold onto his little red heart and know that his mama loves him with all of hers.