I knew I shouldn’t have said anything, I should have just kept my optimistically big mouth shut. No grief and no guilt, eh? Pah. Did it sound like I had made a complaint, like I felt these things were creating a hole in my life?? Today I have felt guiltier and more grief-stricken than I have in a long while. Grief-stricken is, perhaps, a tad strong. Maybe just anguished, vexed, and probably a little distressed will do.
Today is the second day The Baby has been to nursery. Her first day there, last week, was horrible at first. It was my second day back at work, and my first day in a place where I work alone. Things had changed while I had been on maternity leave and I was a little nervous about what I would find and about having no-one around to ask silly questions, or for friendly gossip, or to share a tea-break with.
Piled heftily on top of this was my apprehension and very mixed emotions surrounding sending The Baby to nursery. At times I firmly believe it’s the right thing to do; that keeping her at home and looked-after solely by family members wouldn’t do her as much good as sending her to nursery occasionally; that it will help her adapt more easily when it comes time to send her to school. I never went to nursery. My child-care came from my parents and sometimes grandparents, but never from a child-minder or nursery. I went to school at three years old and I cried every day until I was seven. I didn’t want to be away from home or my mum or familiarity. I do not want my daughter to feel like this. I want her to be confident and enjoy playing with other children, and I feel that I’m encouraging this by sending her to nursery occasionally.
At other times I am abhorred by the notion of nursery.
Leaving The Baby, the most cherished, special and beloved person in my life, with girls who look barely legal to vote, with whom I’ve never had more than a ten minute conversation, and never about anything other than The Baby and her routine (I mean, what if they like really bad dance music and watch the X-Factor?? I dread to think..), whose names I can barely remember, and trusting them to feed and entertain and comfort her, very often leaves me shuddering from head to toe.
Before the proper day last week, we had two trial sessions. At both sessions the staff said The Baby had become very upset when it came to sleeping. Given that, from birth, sleep has been The Baby’s nemesis, this was hardly surprising. When I mentioned we had bought a black-out blind to help with daytime naps, the nursery bought a black-out tent, just for The Baby to sleep in. This made me feel like we had made a good choice with the nursery. She had also, they reported after both trials, been upset after I had left her, but soon settled when distracted with noisy toys or the fish-tank (I am trying not to take it too personally that at the sight of an angel fish, any memory of me is wiped form The Baby’s head).
Comforted slightly by all this, and by the fact that they had calmed her enough that she managed to eat and take a bottle (The Baby has been known to be prone to bouts of fussiness, particularly when upset and over-tired), I left her confidently-ish last week. Despite the fact that she cried when she saw me leaving, and despite the tears that filled my eyes and my over-whelming instinct to run over to her, grab her and promise never to leave her ever, ever again, I still felt that she would be alright; that the nursery nurses knew enough to be able to settle her and calm her and make her smile.
When I phoned them, and hour after I had left, they said she had cried for a few minutes, but she was fine. When The Boyfriend collected her that evening, she had managed two meals and an hour’s sleep, and had enjoyed playing with her new friends and the noisy toys. We all slept well that night.
Today I took her in, and as soon as she saw the nursery nurses, she clung to me like a baby monkey, arms around my neck, head buried in my shoulder. It nearly killed me to let go of her. She cried the minute she left my arms. She sobbed as I kissed her and said goodbye. I sat in my car and cried.
It is such a wrench, such a guilt-inducing, heart-breaking thing to do, to leave The Baby. It is something borne of necessity only; I do not work because I am career-driven, I work because I have to. The Boyfriend does an incredibly difficult, committed job and gets paid shit for it. His talents and his dedication are certainly neither recognised nor rewarded. Were he paid in accordance with the amount of effort and work he puts into his job, we would live like royalty and I would be Stay at Home Queen. As it is, on his income alone, we would live like the evictees we would certainly become.
I phoned the nursery twice today. The Baby had not eaten well, not finishing breakfast or lunch (interestingly, though, she did manage to force down a whole portion of Angel Delight) and has had trouble sleeping. Shocker. When I made the first phone-call, they told me she had been quite upset all morning. This made my heart sink, my stomach churn, and my breasts leak.
Until the day arrives when we actually do live like royalty (I am absolutely positive this will happen, one day, just like in a fairy-tale) I shall keep blogging and writing and hoping that I can somehow turn this into my career and I can at the very least be Work At Home Queen, and until that day comes, I shall keep telling myself that nursery is good for The Baby while simultaneously being wracked with guilt, as my current job doesn’t allow me the option of staying at home.
X-ray in the kitchen, anyone?