I have three weeks left of maternity leave. I am not sure where the last twelve months have gone. I’m pretty sure I’m the subject of some cruel prank whereby someone has fast forwarded time and I’ve really only used up three months of leave.
But when I look at my newborn…. (okay maybe not newborn but he’s definitely a baby not a toddler!) it confirms that I do in fact have an almost one year old. He is crawling (almost walking), he has his first tooth, he back chats me, he shakes his head if I ask him questions, he gives me big cheeky, one-toothed smiles. No, he’s definitely not my little newborn anymore.
But is he big enough for child care? Is he ready for the change?
I know all the benefits of sending him along… socialising with his peers, learning independence, being comfortable away from me. But when he drops his bottom lip and starts to cry, when he throws his arms in his lap in frustration and when he lifts his arms up for cuddles, I just cannot bring myself to think about leaving him. He is such a shy and sensitive little boy.
Who will soothe his tears when he bangs his head?
Who will teach the other kids to play nicely with him?
Who will rub his little tummy when he goes to sleep, or hold his little hand when he’s feeding?
It breaks my heart thinking about him crying out for his mummy who isn’t there to comfort him. How will I know if his tears have been wiped away? How will I know if someone has soothed his sobbing?
His little heart will be broken too. He won’t understand where his mum has gone, and why she hasn’t returned yet. He won’t recognise the toys, the new smells, the new people. He will only be one of ten other children, only a number. I am sure this is not the case, but it feels like I am leaving him to be locked in a pen like an animal, or, leaving him for the wolves!
Perhaps if I employ a bit strategic manipulation the adjustment might be easier for
him me. If I dress him more cutely will the carers fall in love with him and comfort him like I do? If I become besties with the carer’s will they prioritise his needs above the other children? What if I call up every five minutes to remind the carer’s that they need to be watching him. I’m sure all of that will help….
No, none of these options are going to work. I think the only way we are going to do this is if I rip off the childcare band aid. I just have to do it. I just have to leave him in the care of strangers.
It will break my heart.
But I’ve been told by mums who have done this before that the first days of child care is easier for the babies than it is for the mums. I’m not yet convinced, but by God I hope they’re right.
I know some people will judge me for sending my child to child care, I know people are going to say, ‘if it’s that hard then don’t do it‘ or ‘it’s best for your baby for you to stay at home‘ or ‘I can’t believe you could be so selfish‘ (yes, I’m pretty sure I’ll get that one too).
And that’s okay, writing about your experiences as a mother you have to be pretty thick skinned. But I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings that I, and the majority of other mother’s in my situation, don’t feel tremendous guilt about going back to work and leaving our children in the care of someone else. It is heart breaking but many of us are in positions where we have to return to work. Whether by choice or by necessity, the guilt is the same and it is so, so hard.
So wish me luck as I transition my little one into childcare. First for two hours, then a whole day! How will I cope… there will be tears… my tears!
But I will keep you posted with our childcare journey.
Am I alone… did you experience similar feelings when you first put your child into childcare, or are you going through the same thing now? I’d love to hear your advice about how you manage/managed it?
Want more of the honest truth about pregnancy and parenting? Subscribe to Canberra Mummy’s free newsletter at www.canberramummy.com, follow at www.facebook.com/canberramummy, twitter @CanberraMummy or www.pinterest.com/canberram/