“Is she going to know that he likes all his food separately instead of mixed together? Is she going to have enough tissues to keep up with his snotty nose? Is she going to be able to get him to sleep? Understand his words when he is trying to communicate? Is he going to cry inconsolably, thus causing permanent seperation anxiety damage to his psyche, rendering me a bad mother?”
These are the questions one asks themselves while in the shower on the morning their first child is going off to any sort of childcare facility. In our case, Jack is going to an in-home care center, run by the most lovely woman I will call B. This decision has come after months of internal debating with myself as to if Jack is or isn’t ready, is or isn’t suited, will or will not benefit from spending time away from me, away from our home. After a period of Jack seeming to be “searching” for something more, I decided to enroll and start the familiarisation process at B’s house. And now, here we are, the Big Day, and I’m suffering with terrible anxiety and poor Jack wont know what hit him.
Well as it turned out, Jack wasn’t “poor Jack” at all. After a 5 minute cry, he settled in just fine, played and played all day with the two other girls that go there, behaved “like an angel” to quote B, and was the most pleasant little boy all round. And he wasn’t fussed when I came to fetch him at 3:00; he seemed to be more interested in finishing his snack so he could get back to playing on the slide.
All of my anxieties have been unfounded. But what a strange day it was – that first WHOLE day without Jack, which in truth I have had before but he has been with a loved one and I didn’t have to deal with that aching in my heart, that physical tensing of the gut caused by worry and maybe my own bout of seperation anxiety.
As mothers we spend our days going by the clock. Time for a snack. Time for a nappy change. Time for a sleep, or a playdate, or to get lunch in the oven, or for a time-out or a chill-out. How foreign this feels to bestow all of this planning and responsibility onto another person for a whole 14 hours per week. All of a sudden my motherhood productivity level just skyrocketed at an exponential rate, and I cant help thinking this is too good to be true.
Grocery shopping with no tantrums? Dashing in and out of 5 different shops without bribing Jack back into his car seat each time with lollies or airplanes or promises of going to the playground? A morning fitness class at the gym? Yes – it is all possible after all! I feel like I can do anything now. Clean the windows… write a book….. walk the dog…. We don’t have a dog. Maybe I should get one.
I can envision power sessions of wallpaper stripping and tile-laying in our renovation-hungry house. Blog-writing by daylight, which has never happened before. Baking frenzies at lightning speed which don’t include a 2 year old standing at the counter wanting to “help” pour everything in the bowl (or beside it, or on the floor…)
I have heard people say before “a few hours of childcare a week help me to be a better mother”. Well, I can now relate to that statement. You need not suffer post-partum depression or any other sort of illness for this statement to be true. There needn’t be an “excuse”; just a feeling that it is the right thing, at this point in time, for a child or the family.
However. I am left thinking that Nathan truly got the shitty end of the stick all of a sudden. Poor bugger, away working all day, 5 days a week. Here I am at home spending quality time with our son 3 days a week, galavanting around town at my leisure 2 days a week, then family time all weekend long. My biggest dilemma, we discovered last night, was my lack of a coffee thermos, should I have to dash out in the morning before I am able to have my second cup. Yes, being deprived of my second cup of coffee can be such a hardship. Sigh.
My life has, in the past week, taken on a new rhythm to which the tempo is more upbeat. Change is scary, but also necessary. Jack and I will both grow and learn and, ultimately, win as our routine evolves. I can now see how parents get to a stage of “we are ready to have another one now. This just seems so eeeeeasy!” wink wink!