My Toddler Son’s Cold Welcome Back To Mommy

A year and a half.

I had never taken care of my son Jack overnight without my wife Jill being there.

It’s not something I was worried about; I knew I could handle Jill’s day and half business trip to Washington, DC.

Feeding him dinner, bathing him, putting him to bed, handling breakfast the next morning, packing all his stuff for daycare, then dinner and bedtime again.

That’s all I had to handle; in the midst of also picking up my wife’s goodies for Mother’s Day.

So in reality, how did it go? Did I manage it okay?

Uh, yeah. Actually, it was a little too easy.

I didn’t want to wife to know that, though. I didn’t want her to learn that I was able to get him to sleep earlier and quicker than normal. And that I was able to leave the house the next morning about 10 minutes earlier, too.

Not to mention, bath time was a breeze. Jack and I had a lot of fun squirting each other with his bath toys. Before we both knew it, he was sparkly clean and he was pleasantly eager to fall asleep.

This situation reminded me of an article my wife had read which explained that a child is often the most difficult and high maintenance with the parent who he or she was closest to in infancy. After this event, I could see that.

That’s not to say we didn’t both miss her very much. He definitely kept asking “Mama?” while she was gone.

But he seemed to understand as I would explain that Mommy would be back the next day.

I told Jill how I was looking forward to the look on his face when he woke up Saturday morning and saw that she was back. We both had high expectations.

At 6:23 AM on Saturday Jill and I woke up to Jack’s usual hilarious monologue consisting of animal sounds and calls for Elmo. Together, we snuck in his bedroom.

He was standing up, hanging on to the rail of his bed, with his diaper off and a puddle of pee on the carpet below. (That has never happened before!)

Jack was in a weird daze. He seemed apathetic to the fact that Mommy was back, despite my own proclamations of excitement for him.

We travelled to The Pfunky Griddle to have breakfast with Henry’s family and then to another of his toddler friend’s birthday parties.

It wasn’t until the middle of the afternoon that Jack warmed back up to her. I could tell it sort of hurt my wife’s feelings because he wasn’t acting happy that she was back. Actually, I was pretty bummed for her.

I certainly didn’t want to rub it in that things went so well while she was gone. So I did the only thing I knew to do: Let things work themselves out on their own.

By the next day, Jack was whining for Mommy again.

But something tells me that my son’s cold welcome back to Mommy isn’t so unique of an experience in the world of parenting. I bet there’s some psychology behind it that someone smarter than myself could explain; or at least someone else who can relate to this seemingly unusual story.

[Passes the mic to the audience.]

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  1. by Sarah

    On May 22, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I think that it’s his way of showing that he’s upset that she left. It’s all about trust for toddlers, and he wasn’t sure that he could trust her to stay. My son did the same thing; I was gone for a couple of days, and when I got home, he started to run up to me. But then, about halfway to me, he stopped and turned away, with what I can only describe as nonchalance. This went on throughout the whole day, but you know what else happened? Every time I even looked at a door, he would burst into tears.

  2. by Amanda

    On May 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

    My daughter is around Jack’s age and she’s the same way. I had to go overnight out of town for school in January when she was a year and 3 months, and things went perfectly for my husband while I was gone–angel baby x 10,000. When I got home, she looked awkward and uncomfortable when she saw me, didn’t want to say hi or anything. By that evening, though, I was pinned in the armchair by 20-some pounds of toddler and my husband was waiting on us because I wasn’t allowed to put her down!