Mary is very outgoing, and she enjoys going to the Mom's-Day-Out program that she attends twice a week. She also likes the nursery at church and the childcare at the gym. It sure makes things easier for me!! I know she likes being with me too, though, because when I return, I'm always met with an exuberant "You came back!" This exclamation is often followed by lots of running around the room and exclaiming to everyone, "My mommy's back!" "That's my mom. She came back." (I am not exaggerating!).
Lately, the "you came back" routine starts when we pull into the parking lot. I say, "Here we are. Are you ready to go play with the kids?" She usually says "Yes.", and lately she's started adding, "And you'll come back." Of course my answer is,"Yes, I'll come back."
There's a psychological term for this. The psychologist, Mary Ainsworth, coined the term "securely attached". This aspect of Attachment Theory is explained as: "Securely attached children exhibit distress when separated from caregivers and are happy when their caregiver returns. Remember, these children feel secure and able to depend on their adult caregivers. When the adult leaves, the child may be upset but he or she feels assured that the parent or caregiver will return." (http://psychology.about.com/od/loveandattraction/a/attachment01.htm)
So, there you have it -- making my kids feel securely attached is part of my job (a big part!). Being with them is a blessing, but being away from them can be too. What I'm trying to do is to make sure that they feel the security necessary to be sad when I leave and happy when I return. And, according to attachment theory, the attachment that they feel to me as kids will transfer to how they relate to others as adults. This parenting stuff -- it's so important -- it really matters. And while I'm so far from perfect, I know that when I do my very best to love and care for them, then (Lord willing!) I'm raising them to be securely attached adults, who are able to love and care for themselves and others. And, really, isn't that what it's all about?
For now, I'll just do my best each day, and...
"Yes, Mary, I'll always come back."