Watching my LO’s chubby, pleading palms up against the window, as I walk away from the nursery, never gets any easier. Sometimes, I’ll see him through the window, inconsolable in the arms of his key worker. At that point, as I’m rushing back to my car in the fear of being late to work, I really have to stop myself from ringing up my boss, calling it quits on a whim of sheer super-mum style devotion and running back to claim my bundle of heaven.
It’s not like this everyday, the tears and the screaming, but when it happens, it guts me, rips out my insides and leaves me wanting to both cry and vomit at the same time.
Like many mummies, I had no choice in returning to work: we needed the money. Similarly, like many new parents, we’re not fortunate enough to have grandparents to support us. With great reluctance, my LO had his first taster day when he was just 8 months old.
The nursery posted a picture of him on our parent app that day, in the kind hope of trying to calm his hysterical mother, I suppose. I’ll never forget it. A lone baby, propped up by cushions to help him sit up, with a wide eyed expression of both terror, loneliness and awe. When I saw it after my first day at work, I cried for a long time. I cried for him; I cried for me; I cried because our time had gone so quickly. But most of all, I cried because I knew that I was actually working until 12pm everyday to do exactly what I want/ed to do: to look after my own child.
When I went to look around our chosen nursery, one of the ladies in the room asked me how many days a week would my then 9 month old be attending, to which I replied, ‘4.’ I’ll never forget her reply: ever. With a look of both pity and disagreement worn on her face, she said, ‘ooohhh, that’s such a long time.’
To an already emotional and anxious woman, my own guilt was enough to bear; with her judgement added to it, it all became just too much.
There’s nothing anyone can ever say to make it better, apart from, ‘well if we win the lotto, then you’re on my list.’
To all the mummies reading this, who feel the pain I feel on those tear-filled mornings, I know how hard it is, and you have my full support and empathy.