Josephine has never been a baby who cries when I leave her. These meltdowns were always reserved for her dad, making the beginning of his daily commute to the big city difficult for everyone involved. It used to make me sad that she wasn't sad to see me go, but I reassured myself that it was healthy -- and really a wonderful thing-- that she was so comfortable with the caretakers we have for her. In fact, Josephine is just a friendly, open little creature. At our music class last week, as we were all putting on our shoes and jackets to leave, she made eye contact with and ran over to the nanny of one of the boys in the class. She held up her arms smiling and said, "Up!" to this almost-complete stranger. Once up, she rested her head on the sweet woman's shoulder and sighed in delight.
So I was so surprised yesterday when my sixteen-month-old Josephine burst into tears as I got ready to go to the grocery store. She was in the care of her beloved Aunt Li Li, so I would never have expected it. She waits all day for Li Li's arrival, and I am chopped liver as soon as she walks in. But dissolve into tears she did, trying even to walk out the door with me. She looks so particularly tiny when she weeps, and I am always surprised at the size of those tears in relation to the girl. I tried to comfort her as best I could. As I drove off, I thought back on how it used to make me feel when I'd leave and she'd be smiling away. Now I was sad, much sadder indeed, at her momentary despair. As an educator, I know all about that whole object permanence thing, but it doesn't make much difference in a moment like that when it is your own child feeling the anxiety.
Things go in cycles, though, I guess. The last thing I saw as I averted my eyes from Josephine's sad face was Lucy's big grin as she bounced in Li Li's arms and I pulled out of the driveway.