Last week on Friday’s Focus on Families, I wrote about Continuity of Care and how healthy and strong attachments to caregivers might create a sense of unease in some parents. A few hours later, I received an email from a Early Math Counts reader who told me this story.
A few months after my daughter began preschool, I woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, with my heart pounding. You see I woke up because I was having a nightmare. I dreamt that my daughter’s caregiver was in my house, prowling through my cabinets and drawers, looking in my closets. She was in my kitchen pulling out a cups and saucers, making herself a cup of coffee – in MY kitchen. I felt vulnerable and exposed like she was all up in my stuff. Even when I woke, I knew what this was all about.
None of us needs a PhD in psychology to know what her dream meant. “All up in my stuff” is the exact feeling that many parents feel when their child becomes attached to her caregiver and it feels like the caregiver is moving in, making herself at home, making a cup of coffee, shuffling through the cabinets, and just getting too close.
This feeling is unnerving and scary and adds to the ambiguity many parents feel when their child moves further afield than the front door. This is all a part of the parental process of letting go. Scary as it is, it is so good for children to develop healthy and attached relationships with other people.
Even if the rational self understands this, the unconscious, sleeping self, tells a different story.