City Mama, County Mama: Coffee Shop Confessions – Separation Anxiety Isn’t Just A Childhood Affliction (By Lonelle Selbo, Life Au Lait)
I’m sitting at a big wooden table, working on my laptop in the middle of Miss Lily’s Café in Picton. My little boy is at his fourth day of preschool, hopefully playing with his best friends, this morning’s tear-stained cheeks, dried, pleas to stay home, forgotten. I’m sipping a London Fog latte and am trying to silence my brain so I can enjoy it and lose myself in the total coffee shop-ness of the moment.
Checkered floors, mismatched chairs, pretty rustic products lined up on shelves. Friends chatting to each other at little bistro tables, people reading or scrolling, passing time in cozy club chairs—and then there’s me, sitting here like a normal person, typing away.
It all feels so three years ago.
You know that shocking moment when you catch yourself inside a vignette of your pre-mom self and you’re almost floored that life still exists just as you left it? Well that’s what’s happening right now. Coffee culture had been perfectly preserved in its cliché little ritual while I checked out to birth and begin to rear a tiny human for a few years. And then today, I slipped back into it for a few hours while my little boy, who came out of my body and then held tightly onto my hand for the subsequent thirty-six or so months, did his own thing.
When you’re a first time mom, the concept of preschool is hard to get your head around. I hear it’s hard the second and third time round too. I mean we obviously get the idea—kid goes to school, mom leaves and does things without kid, mom picks up kid—but the actual reality of it is almost ungraspable until you find yourself in a coffee shop, solo, sipping a hot drink moments after it was poured, focusing entirely on one task. Maybe that’s why I was here. Alone, but surrounded by people who didn’t and wouldn’t need anything from me at all.
It didn’t happen immediately. After the first few drop-offs I left the school bewildered, craning my neck to watch the road behind me, and then the sidewalks as I got further away. I expected that at any second my distraught little adventurer would break through the heavy school doors and run into town to find me. I imagined in detail a thousand terrifying scenarios and had to talk myself off of numerous ledges of anxiety. I spent too long on his first day standing in the hallway outside the classroom, listening for sounds of distress (a passing teacher guessed alound that I might be on a time-out) before it became evident to me that separation anxiety isn’t just a childhood affliction—I wanted alone time, but apparently not at the expense of being without my child.
But our kids have to learn. And we have to learn. If we hold each other too close, for too long, neither of us are doing our jobs of growing up. Our darling babies slowly become whole and separate. They go on to have healthy, distinct, and real relationships with people who aren’t their mothers, while we rediscover who we once were through the lens of who we’ve become. We reclaim the quiet buzz of life, tapping away at keyboards in coffee shops, contemplating other people’s lives as they come and go. We watch twenty-somethings order tea and seventy-somethings get lattes – all of them once someone’s precious three-year old, carving out their first little space in the world.
From the green belts of Midtown Toronto to the endless pastures and lakes of Prince Edward County, fashion magazine editor Lonelle Selbo, lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes all things mommy—from cool toys to DIY home décor, pretty things to hip places, where-to-eat to how-to-grow, and mom style to toddler chic. Every month, she’ll bring a little County to Midtown Mommies.