How could I have possibly taken my baby from her protective little home when she was so young and thrust her in such an environment as a public nursery?!?!
I went to bed feeling like a bad bad mom.
There was a time, long long ago, when kids weren’t even on the radar (in fact I was certain I wouldn’t have any), when my career was my life. I worked long hours, leaving my desk just in time to catch the last train home. What little free time I had was often spent at lectures, filling in paperwork, studying for additional exams, and adding to my portfolio, all in the quest of success.
As is often the case, my priorities changed and work became part of what I did but was no longer the only way to define me. Despite those changes and as sad as I am to say it, I still do equate my self worth with my success in the working world. This combined with a bit of number crunching meant that when we decided to start a family, I knew I would return to work.
That said, when the time came to put little miss into nursery, I wasn’t ready. I had just begun to come out of the numbness of postnatal depression and was desperate to get in some much needed bonding with my daughter, worried she’d connect with her key worker before she did with me. This was made even harder by the fact that, because of the recent and all too familiar economic downturn, I had no job to return to. I used the nursery time to job hunt but it did not lesson my guilt. It was a bit easier once I had a job to go to but it still felt like I was abandoning her and completely failing in my primary duty as a mother.
My daughter, on the other hand, thrived from day one. Sure, she has brought home her share of fevers and stomach bugs, but she’s a real trooper when it comes to being sick, taking even that in her stride. She often comes home covered in paint or shimmering with glitter, sometimes in her spare change of clothes, the ones she went in sopping wet from water or some other sort of messy play. She’s made friends and has learned so many skills we could only hope to expose her to if she wasn’t in that environment. She has a learning journal that is bursting with info already. I’ve watched my baby become a little girl and I know a lot of that is down to that place she goes to a few times a week.
Still, there are days when she clings to one of us at drop off or refuses to hug me good bye that my heart breaks and I wonder if perhaps I should find a way to be home with her. There are other days when I feel under-appreciated at work and struggle to justify the valuable time I’m missing with my daughter for what is essentially a shadow of what I used to do. These days are tough and leave me guilt ridden but most of the time the bouncy giggly child that I meet at pick-up reminds that she’s doing just fine.
This week we increased her days at nursery. She didn’t want to go yesterday and it seemed as the world was telling me I’d made a wrong choice. I wondered where I’d gone wrong, how I could fix it, how much had I scarred her already. Thankfully that feeling didn’t last. In today’s light, I remember that we explored various options and we know this place is a good fit, for her and for us.
This morning Little Miss couldn’t get into nursery and begin playing fast enough. Even with our new schedule, she still gets one whole day with Daddy and one whole day with me. That’s a pretty good deal if you ask me.
***PS. On the subject of Good Mom/Bad Mom, did you see this on Postpartum Progress last week?
I've read it everytime I've had a week moment.