a bad day

I’m feeling a bundle of emotions at the moment. Baby had her first full day childcare today. Prior to this she has spent two half days and three or four hour long sessions with me there playing with her. Last week Prince Charming dropped her off and said that she had cried as he left. I was a bit shocked as she has been really happy all the other times we have been there, crawling off and even going outside on her own to play in the sandpit, leaving me inside.

I braced myself this morning thinking that she might get upset when I left, and wondered how I would cope, however I was fairly confident that she would be ok. I was wrong. We spoke at home all morning about going to play with the kiddies, and she kicked her legs and nodded in delight. I think now perhaps she thought we were going to mother’s group, not creche.

When we arrived at the centre she cowered into me and was reluctant to be put down. Prince Charming and I agreed that we are not going to drop and run, but would feel better to make it part of the routine that we stay and play with her for five or ten minutes before saying goodbye. So we had a little play in the sand, but she began whimpering if I moved out of arms reach. We played with some felt ducks and chickens and she became a little more confident. It was then time for morning tea (in a place where lunch is served at 11am, morning tea is early!) She began to cry when I sat her in her little chair at the table with the other kids, but I knelt next to her and she was excited to see some vegemite toast being placed in front of her. Another mum was having a similar experience with her little girl who seems a bit older than Baby, so when she prepared to leave I decided to do the same.

I kissed Baby on the lips and said bye bye. She burst into tears, reaching out and trying to grasp me as I walked away. I have never walked away when she has cried. It was physically painful to leave her. One of the workers, Rachel, came to her side. By the time I got to the door she was distracted by Rachel and had stopped crying. Me on the other hand… I had a hard enough time holding the tears in between the door and my car. Nevertheless I pulled myself together and got to work. Around 10am I rang and she was apparently having a great time and had been outside playing in the sandpit and playing with the other children.

I rushed to finish all my work and at 4.56pm I ran out of the office and drove to pick her up. I peeked in the door of the baby room and saw her sitting on the couch looking rather exhausted and a bit miserable. Last week Prince Charming said she was so excited to see him when he picked her up, so I was looking forward to seeing her little smile. I walked in the door and Rachel pointed me out. Baby looked towards me and as she realised it was me, her eyes widened in despair. She burst into tears and launched herself towards me. She screamed “Mama, Mama!” in a hysterical pitch that I have never, ever heard come out of her mouth.

I was beside myself.

“Don’t feel bad,” said Rachel, “She has been fine up until about half an hour ago when other parents started arriving to pick up their kids.”

I bundled Baby close to me and wiped away her tears. I collected her bags and tried to hold myself together. I made it to the car and tried to act happy and excited as I was fighting back tears. I cried on and off for about two hours when we got home. You know when you have those teary times? Once the waterworks start it can be hard to turn off the tap. Then I was drying my favourite pottery mug for a cup of tea. It slipped from my hands and smashed into a million pieces on the kitchen floor. That’s when I really lost it.

It seems ridiculous feeling like this when the television is playing in the background with footage from September 11. I know in the grand scheme of things, this will pass. I think of all the thousands of children going to childcare, and have some confidence that all the other mums and mother’s group are saying their babies are loving it. Are they telling me the truth?

When I was pregnant, leaving my last job and going on maternity leave, the girl we hired to take over my role was just coming back from maternity leave. She was dropping her baby at childcare for the first time on those few days I spent with her doing a handover. I distinctly remember her arriving breathless and teary, embarrassed and apologetic. Even though I was pregnant, I didn’t really understand what she was going through. I even remember at one point feeling like rolling my eyes when she went to call the centre for a second or third time in the one day.

It’s only now that I really understand what she was going through.

*******

Added note: after pressing ‘publish’ on a post in wordpress, it tells you how many words your post contained. This post contained 911 words. A weird coincidence? A message to focus on the positive perhaps.

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12 thoughts on “a bad day

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  2. Oh Lucy! None of this is easy. Feeling confident in our decisions, and then rethinking them often, and readjusting our lives as necessary, is all we can do to be at our best in this game.

    I read this article recently, and it articulates precisely how I frequently feel about being a mother: http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/Freedom-from-guilt-is-the-ultimate-gift/2004/11/25/1101219674917.html. I hope it might be interesting to you and your readers. By sending you the link, I am not at all telling you to Get Over It, because that feels quite anti-feminist to me (and I hope never to be accused that), but to soothe yourself with the knowledge that you are indeed doing your best. Big love to you.

    • Thanks so much for commenting Sarah, I really value your little snippets of inspiration and kind words each and every time. It was a very hard day yesterday, but I’m feeling a bit better about things today. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks it goes a bit better once we get into the swing of things.

      The article was an interesting one. I have sat here for a long time thinking about it. I totally agree, expectations put on mothers are often old fashioned and impossible. We live in a world where we are expected to be everything, all at once (and all with a smile). Society expects ridiculous things. I continuously question why it seems people set out to make mothers feel bad about their choices, their ‘way’, their style. Or to recite horror stories to pregnant women (but that is another story). I think each and every one of us is entitled to do what is right in our varied circumstances, ignoring anyone who thinks otherwise. Somewhere along the line mothers have to have the courage to recognise, listen to, and respect their true instincts, their gut, minus all the crap. But sometimes articles like these make me feel like I have to want it all – motherhood, career, time to myself, time with children, achievements outside of the home, etc. People seem shocked when I say I would be more than happy to be a stay at home mama if we had the means. The facial expressions say it all, really. Does that make me nothing but a boring, weak ‘Vaseline-smudged’ mother being trodden on by all of society? I hope not. I hope that I am just following my heart day by day and having the courage to listen to it.

      My head is spinning now! Would love to see you soon. xo

  3. Hi – Just found your blog via Ivy Nest. I was a full time at home mamma with my first two, and my third for most of it – when he was 3 I returned to University and we tried childcare. I couldn’t do it to him. He was in tears as I left, began having bad dreams, waking up crying, waited for me by the door when I was picking him up. I chose to wait to study and concentrated on being a mamma – now he is in school (prep this year) and I am so glad I made the sacrifice and choice to be at home. It was hard and sometimes isolating, but he was more important. xx Hope you find your balance! Rach x

    • Hi Rachael, thank you so much for popping in, and your kind words. You’ve given me some food for thought. The whole situation breaks my heart. Looking forward to checking out your blog, just opened it up in a new tab! Have a lovely weekend, Lucy xo

  4. Oh Lucy, this is such an honest post. I have been on both sides of the fence here, as a mother like you leaving my child in care, and as a carer watching parents leave and crying in the car. I completely understand how you feel. I think that you can probably trust the carers to be honest with you about how your baby is coping and I would recommend that you form a reasonably close relationship with them. It is a very difficult time for your family as you adjust to this new routine. Kids generally love the company of other children, routines of care and do have lots of fun. Some kids just sail into this routine and some take longer. It will take some time and I hope to be reading here in a few weeks time, about a little baby that refuses to come home with you….and then that’s another thing to get upset about!!!

    • Amanda, thank you so much for this comment. It couldn’t have come at a better time as I read it this morning over breakfast before dropping Nell off at childcare for the first time since I wrote this post. It was just what I needed to calm my flustering nerves. Thank you! (And she is doing much better today, thank goodness). xo

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