September 25, 2012


Isabelle's stranger anxiety began when she was very, very young.  I'm not exactly sure, but I want to say around 3 months.  I know it was before 6 months.

As a new mom, I was very protective of my little girl.  We spent a lot of time at home, just the two of us.  All of our family lived hours away, so visits to see grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles and cousins were few and far between.  And, when we did get to see our family Isabelle was less than thrilled and never let anyone else get near her, let alone hold her, without going into a major fit.

The idea of going out with Dustin on a date and hiring a baby-sitter to watch Isabelle seemed like the most daunting thing ever.  How could I subject anyone to Isabelle's fits or subject Isabelle to such trauma?

As a result, I was rarely without my child.

As the months passed, I decided to get a part-time job.  Isabelle was 8 months old at the time and my schedule worked perfectly with Dustin's so a sitter would never be needed.  I was excited for the chance to get out of the house and make a little bit of money.

The day I was offered the job, I was told my training would be a week long and at a different location and city than where I'd actually be working.  The hours of my training were also different.  As a non-driver and mother of a very anxious child, this presented a challenge for me.  Luckily, Dustin had a wonderful boss that was so accommodating to our unusual situation and she worked with him so that he could take me to work.

On the flip side, I had to find a sitter for Isabelle.  I had a good friend that offered to help me.  She had two young girls of her own and I knew Isabelle would be in good hands.  She also knew about Isabelle's stranger anxiety and promised me she wouldn't be bothered by it.  So, I sucked it up and decided to trust that things would be okay.  After all, Isabelle was only going to be with a sitter for less than 2 hours a day.

The first day she cried most of the time.  The second day was the same, but she cried less.  By the end of the week, she was still anxious to see us leave her, but she was much more relaxed and it was obvious she was getting used to the idea of being around new people.

That week was a great learning experience for me as I let go of my daughter and allowed her to adapt to new situations and experiences.

Now, at 3 years old, Isabelle continues to be shy, but she has definitely come a long way.  She is able to see my family on a regular basis, so we're all cured of her stranger anxiety there; however, she see's Dustin's side of the family less and is still prone to not wanting grandma or grandpa hold her which really bothers me.  But, overall, things have improved greatly.

As I ponder the new experiences she will be faced with in the coming years {a new baby sister, pre-school, kindergarten, etc.}, I worry about how she will adjust.  I have nightmares of her refusing to go to school, so I'm trying to do what I can now to prepare her, even if it's just in small ways.

Isabelle has always enjoyed dancing, so I proposed to Dustin that we sign her up for classes.  He was on board and we both were happy to give her the opportunity to be in new situations, to be in a classroom-like setting, to learn how to be comfortable around adults and children and, of course, to have fun!

On Saturday, we went to a local dance store to get her a leotard, tights, ballet slippers and tap shoes.  The store was very busy and I felt like a total fish out of water.  I imagined my feelings were how my mom felt when she first took me to a music store after I demanded to take violin lessons.  She had no idea what to expect, and I found myself in the same situation.

I caught myself being a helicopter mom as the nice associate worked with Isabelle to find the right size shoes.  It took all my energy not to answer the questions she was asking Isabelle, but to instead let the two of them interact and communicate together.

So far, I've learned that if I just back off and relax my daughter does just fine in new situations.  At first, she squeezes my leg in apprehension and is quiet and shy around new people, but eventually she does let go and blossoms as she enjoys a new experience.

I am thoroughly enjoying the idea of everything life has to offer Isabelle in the coming years, but know her growth and development and advancement can only go so far provided I learn to let go and trust that she will be okay. 


1 comment:

  1. It is my greatest desire that one day my granddaughter will at least LIKE me. :(


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