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.