Anxious Toddler in A House Full Of Changes

Recently, as I wrote before, I got promoted temporarily to an interim position as a supervisor in our call center. This comes with the hopefully very real possibility that I will be chosen in the next phase of interviews as a permanent supervisor over the team that I am currently over. It also comes with a shift that is completely opposite to what Punky is used to.

Her entire last year and a half has been Mommy working 8AM-5PM. Now, I am working 3PM-Midnight. Punky has been pretty easy going her entire little life and I had witnessed her change and adapt to changes in her routine pretty easily. I was nervous when accepting this position that she may take a little longer to adjust.

I think we are seeing the anxiety this new change has created in our little one and I’m not sure how to curb it, or how to help her cope with this. I feel terrible that she is having such a hard time with the transition and I’m really not sure how to fix it for her.

Lately, and I just witnessed it this morning, Punky has to be hanging on K all the time. K mentioned it to me the last few days, but I haven’t really noticed while I was home. Well, I noticed it today. Punky will literally stand next to K’s chair and hold onto a piece of her shirt. Or has to be touching her in some way. K says that it escalates when I go to work and Punky needs to be held and whines and wants up and down constantly.

I’m concerned that Punky is afraid that since I’m leaving, she thinks K is leaving. I am afraid she thinks I have abandoned her, even though, she has to know that I am coming home every day and she sees me in the morning. It breaks my heart to think she is anxious about my leaving her. And even moreso, it makes me sad that she is clinging to K like she’s going to be abandoned twice.

I’m hoping this is just a phase, but I don’t know how to help her transition better, because this promotion is a great thing financially for our family and it’s what I want to do at work. We have always had a semi-predictable routine for Punky and I think that may be part of the problem, but it has helped keep her sleep on track and she’s been able to know what is coming next.

I was afraid this would happen when I accepted the position and I had hoped, since she is usually so independent and able to keep to herself, that it wouldn’t be a big deal. We have changed the routine before and she’s adapted quickly to it. Not only that, but I have so much more time to play with her in the day time than I did in the evenings when I worked the day shift. We get to go to play dates and spend time outside the apartment. We get to do things with other kids and she’s not stuck in the apartment with just her moms.

I tried to talk to Punky today and yet, I know she’s too little to really understand. She’s also like a ferret and doesn’t pay attention to what I’m saying unless I have shiny things in my hands. Anyway, I tried. I said, “Punky, you know Mommy loves you. Mommy just goes to work at night and I see you in the morning. You know Mommy isn’t going to stay gone, right?” She just hugged me tight and that made me want to cry! I said, “Mama is not going anywhere, either. You don’t have to hang onto her, she’s right there. She’s going to be right there.” Of course, at that point, my toddler got bored and climbed off my lap, and proceeded to go grab a piece of K’s shirt.

I just wonder if anyone else has these problems. I just wonder if there is anything I can do to ease her mind that her moms aren’t going anywhere. I used to think that these fears of children thinking their parents were abandoning them was really just the moms over thinking and feeling guilty, and maybe that’s what this is. But, I am seeing a definite difference in Punky’s demeanor or the way she interacts with the both of us, together and separately.

Hopefully, this is just a phase and it too will change, because it’s hurting my heart and I know K would love to get some things done without a toddler hanging off her shirt all day. People need personal space, ya know.