Naively, I hadn’t done much to prepare for Harry’s first day at nursery. So I was completely floored by the despair I felt over going against all my instincts and leaving him behind.
I’m a firm believer that nurseries are a good experience for our little ones, they have the chance to socialise with other babies and to do crafts and things that will help them grow.
Independence is also something I really want him to have, I’m very independent myself and I want him to grow up with the same ability to play on his own and not need constant attention.
As a result, he’s always been happy to go to family and friends that he doesn’t see very often and I was proud when the staff at the nursery were impressed by what a chilled out boy he was during his visits.
We’d had three settling in days, each with an increasing amount of time where he stayed with his key worker alone, and he had been absolutely fine.
So, even they were surprised when my happy, babbling baby went from playing with his new toys to completely melting down at the sight of me leaving.
As I walked out of the door and returned to my car I was fighting back the tears. The urge to go back and get him was almost too much to bare.
I just felt empty, like I was missing a limb.
Having been lucky enough to spend a whole year together we had become quite a team.
We’d had moments where I desperately wanted to pack a bag and walk out, but generally we were good together.
We’d created a routine that worked for us, spending every minute together felt less of a chore and more of an adventure (Generally we played the ‘how long can we go before Mummy needs wine today?’ game).
We’d developed our special signals – he does this very cute clicking thing with his tongue which he knows always makes me smile – and he’s just started crawling over to me and giving me a hug.
We’d come to know each other inside out. When I was crying on my bed the other week, he crawled over to see me and patted me on the head. I mean, he then emptied my CD rack, but still, it was lovely.
All of a sudden, I was facing the fact I was leaving him with someone who didn’t understand him in the way that I do, in the way only a parent can. It was so very daunting.
Every day he’s been so far, he’s cried so much he has made himself sick, something he has never done before because he rarely gets that upset (plus he’s easily distracted with a mobile phone).
The image of that haunts me as I sit working at my dining table just a short drive away. And I feel awful…
I think the guilt is made slightly worse in my head because I am actually in a position where I don’t technically need to go back to work. I appreciate I am very lucky in that respect.
My partner earns enough to be able to support us all, but not going back to work would have meant life was challenging for us financially, but even more so for me – mentally.
In the early days after Harry was born, I spent the night feeds thinking about what I would be doing when I came back to work.
I made lists of what I could do during the day to help me prepare for applying for jobs. I never actually switched off.
I feel guilty about making the choice to send him to nursery, rather than stay at home and raise him. I’m not a Mum who has been forced into that decision, this is entirely down to me.
And aside from all that, I like to have my own money – especially as I have been on and off benefits for the past 18 months.
Like I say, I’m independent. I need my own wages and I need something to fund my wine/football/chocolate habits.
As I write this, I am counting down the 67 minutes that remain until I can go and collect him. We have the rest of the week together and I’m going to make sure we have fun.
Come Monday, I know it will all come back round again and, as I close the gate to the nursery garden – straining to hear if he is still crying, I’ll probably be fighting back the tears once again.
I wonder how long it will be until we’re both accustomed to this new routine?
I wonder how many more times I’ll be trying not to get spotted while I’m peering through the hedges to spot him through the window?
I wonder whether I will look back at this time and regret the decision I have made?
Hopefully I will be writing again in a few months time to tell you how well he is doing and how much I am loving having this time to myself to really concentrate on my work.
For now, I think it’s time to pop the Prosecco in the fridge to celebrate us getting through the first few days of this new chapter in our story.
Have you any stories from your child’s first week in nursery? Did it take them long to settle in? How did it make you feel seeing them off on their adventures without you? You can let me know in the comments below or tweet me on @MumFullofDreams.