Goodbye maternity leave and hello work and nursery
It was 5.45am and I was wide awake. I’d been up all night with Cyrus teething and worrying about him. It was business as usual.
So much so, that little C has slept in our bed for months, and recently, to avoid him getting squished through the night, baba (daddy) had been confined to the guest room.
Last night, I watched as he restlessly writhed around on the sofa and turned his nose up at his tea. It was like he had some kind of sixth sense that I was going to leave him in the care of strangers.
I craddled him to calm him down and I looked deep into his hazel eyes. The transition was going to be difficult.
Despite me being ready to go back to work and knowing C was going to be in the best possible hands, I still had a nagging feeling of guilt and anxiety about leaving him.
I’d done all the right things with settling in sessions to acclimatise him to his new surroundings. BUT I was worried sick that by sending him to nursery, I would somehow lose the bond that we had built over so many months.
However I was also beating myself up on maternity leave because I didn’t have enough money to take him to baby groups EVERY DAY.
Stay At Home Mum? (SAHM), we couldn’t afford it, but even if we could, perhaps it was selfish of me to restrict his development with other children.
Wrapping him up, we got in the car and drove to the nursery (mahde koodak in farsi). Baba was quick to say his goodbyes from the comfort of the car. It was going to be me playing ‘Bad Cop’.
Even then, part of me thought maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. But no, we had to.
When our key worker came into the room, Cyrus was full of smiles. He didn’t seem to notice me as he crawled off to play with the toys. I hung around in the doorway for a few moments. If I left now – he might think I’d abandoned him.
He liked his cuddles and milk at certain times of the day, would his key worker know how to read the signs?
I handed his bag over with his belongings. Reaching into it, I pulled out his items one by one. His furry bunny, sippy cup, blankie and all-in-one bedtime suit. It was too much. I could feel my eyes watering. Then came the tears.
I felt embarrassed getting so weepy in front of the other parents who were dashing off to work. I also didn’t want C to sense my unease. I quickly kissed his little cheek and handed him over to my key worker.
I knew I was welcome to call as many times as I liked throughout the day, so that was good, but I was still anxious about leaving him.
I’d packed my work bag the night before. In it, a pack of tissues which came in handy, make-up, painkillers, a chocolate bar and just enough money for a coffee.
I didn’t have the same reservations about going back to work after so long. I was welcomed back with open arms. You see, when people take the time to acknowledge how you feel, it really makes a huge difference. And my work colleagues are the best!
In nine months, H and I hadn’t had a night out or a lunch out because I felt guilty about leaving Cyrus for more than a couple of hours.
Yet my colleagues understood. My first day back and after a catch-up, they took me for lunch. As we chatted, I suddenly realised I wasn’t alone in feeling emotional at this time and that meant the world to me.
I missed Cyrus today. Sending him to nursery was the toughest call. But I don’t feel I made the wrong choice despite being wrought with guilt.
There really is no right answer when it comes to making childcare decisions, only what makes sense for you.
This afternoon I gave C the biggest hug I’ve ever given him, I then settled down to read his daily journal. He’d had a ‘lovely time’ playing with his new friends and had learned valuable social skills in the process…. All in a day’s work, I thought!