On Separation Anxiety


Shunali Khullar Shroff

April 6, 2012

“My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can’t decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.” ~ Rita Rudner

“The hand that rocks the cradle usually is attached to someone who isn’t getting enough sleep.”
~ John Fiebig

I am to travel to London briefly next week. The thought of leaving my children is rustling up much anxiety in me and marring any chance of looking forward to my trip. I have no doubt that my children will be well looked after by their doting dadi. And yet I suffer coz the ‘heart has its reasons that reason does not know’.

Becoming a mother is really the hardest and yet the most rewarding thing in the world. Cliché? Yes. But true. I don’t think I have slept a full night’s sleep since our first-born came into the world nine years ago. I should have been warned before I had my babies. Someone ought to have told me that I need to choose between sleep and motherhood.

My body wakes up on autopilot in the middle of the night and I sleepwalk to my kids’ room to check on them every single night. This includes the night when they are doing a sleep over at their grandparents’. On those nights, I wake up and look up our dog.

I thought I was obsessive bordering on psychotic till I observed Coco the    other day. Coco is my sister’s Chiwawa and she has had a litter of three tiny      puppies out-of-wedlock a few weeks ago.  I had gone over specially to see how  the puppies were faring. Seeing this irresistible heap of three tiny Chiwawa  babies I bent over to pick them up. The worry on Coco’s face as I adjusted her  little one in the palm of my hand, the concern that they may be scared or  hurt, was only too apparent on her face.  She scampered around me  constantly as I sat on the couch, to make sure her baby was safe. When I put  her pup down on the floor finally and let him make his way towards his bed  she turned back to look at me, imploring me to help him climb inside it. When  I took a cue and did exactly as she wanted she rewarded me by wagging her  tail and tenderly touching my shins with her paw to thank me.

Then she climbed in after him herself and began to clean up and stroke her other two puppies while they took turns hanging onto her teats till their little tummies could expand no further. Having had way too much to drink they collapsed and rolled over on their backs, unable to move thereafter. This time Coco sat upright watching over them for what seemed like an eternity. The carefree Coco we knew a few months ago has ceased to be the alpha female of the house and is only just a mother now. Her whole personality has undergone such drastic transformation that is it hard to believe that she was anything else other than a ‘mother’.

Very soon these little puppies will find their new homes as my sister and her husband already have an animal farm situation in their apartment and cannot possibly add 3 more pups to it. I wonder how Coco will deal with it then. These puppies are her raison-d-etre.  I hate to imagine her suffering once they are taken away from her one by one.

Has nature really meant for it to be this way? Will she forget and get over this separation? If this is a dog’s life then it really must be a life of suffering because I see no difference between Coco and me. We share the same emotions. We feel the same way. Then what kind of karma merits a dog’s birth I wonder?

Suddenly my own anxiety about being away from my kids for a week seems ridiculous to me. Am just thanking my stars I am not a dog. Not in this life anyway.