published Monday, March 5th, 2012

Hill: Separation anxiety takes casualties on both sides

My husband and I recently returned from a 10-day vacation in Jamaica. And though we had a wonderful time, I was ready to come home. I missed my granddaughters.

Weeks before we left, my oldest granddaughter, Tilleigh, 5, cried at the mention of Jamaica. I actually hid the suitcases so that she wouldn't see the packing process.

"Why are you leaving me, Mom (she calls me "Mom")?" she cried. "You won't be with me on Valentine's Day."

Her cries were sincere, and while it broke my heart, it made me feel completely loved. It also made me somewhat dread the day of departure.

I began missing the girls (Evie is 22 months) on the drive to Atlanta. Seriously.

On the second day of our vacation, I called my mother when I knew she would be baby-sitting the girls. She told them I was on the phone.

"Mother, don't tell Tilleigh it's me," I said. "She'll start crying as soon as she hears my voice, and you'll have to deal with it."

Regardless, Mother handed Tilleigh the phone.

"Hi, Mom," Tilleigh said in her sweet high-pitched voice that melts my heart and turns me into a pile of mush.

"Hi, baby. I miss you," I said, preparing to deal with her cries of despair.

"I miss you, too, Mom. I've got to go. I'm playing," she said. "Talk to you later."

She hung up the phone.

What? Talk to me later? You're playing? You've got to go?

What?

I was speechless.

Tilleigh was too busy having fun to talk to me. She didn't sound like she was even missing me.

"What did she say?" my husband asked.

"She was too busy to talk," I said, pouting like a 2-year-old.

After dealing with my hurt feelings and coming to terms with my co-dependency, I knew it was good that my granddaughter was content and happy. I know my granddaughters love me and that they were, in fact, missing me (and their grandfather). They have a very doting mother and equally devoted great-grandmother, so they have no time to be lonely. There's no shortage of love in our family.

Tilleigh's mom, my daughter, told me there were moments when Tilleigh was "weepy" for us, but when that happened, she orchestrated something fun to change her train of thought. It worked like a charm.

My husband did the same thing with me. When I got weepy for the kids, he'd think of something to change my train of thought. It worked like a charm.

I'm not good at cutting apron strings, and I'm finding that it's not any easier with grandchildren than it was with my children. That's OK, though. I'll know when it's time to let go. Or not.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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