Friday, 24 February 2012

Four Things To Make You Feel OK About Leaving Your Child In Nursery

So, I survived my first proper working week, but I'm afraid there has been no walk as - in classic fashion - I picked up some horrible germ and have been too ill to leave the house. Boo!

Work itself was ok, although the Chap wasn't in nursery as he was running a temperature. Obviously him being unwell isn't a good situation, but it has been quite a nice opportunity for me to ease myself back into work without having to worry about him being in nursery at the same time. I don't have a problem with me leaving him going to work, but I am still very unhappy about leaving him in a nursery, and it's still the hardest thing I've ever done. Worse, even, than my A Level year, and The Year Of The Really Horrible Job, which is something worth saying.

There  are things, however, I have found that don't make it better, but do make it more manageable...

1) Lots of people put photos of their family on their desks to make themselves feel better.

This is not an option I have chosen. If I see a picture of my son, I will feel so awful that I will have nothing to do but run to the nursery and take him out and go home right then. This is not practical. Therefore, I have instead printed off this picture and stuck it on the partition on my desk.

Oddly enough, I found Hogarth's Gin Lane to be very comforting while pregnant, too. There are so many Pronouncements thrown at you while pregnant (eat this! Don't eat this! Take that! Don't go near that! Don't even think about drinking that!), I found Gin Lane to be quite reassuring - look, all these people are living in poverty and off their heads on gin, and they have managed to have babies they can then allow to fall head first off the steps. Now I am a mother, it's quite nice to have a gentle reassurance that yes, there are much, much worse things I could be doing than putting my son into nursery for two days a week...

2) Talk to other women.

Specifically for me, this has had to be other women who have gone back to work. I love the ChapDad dearly, but it's not the same for boys. Their experience is different because there are - unjustly - fewer expectations placed upon them by society. No, that's not right. There are as many expectations, they're just different. I used to really get my goat when people used to see my husband changing nappies and say 'aww, isn't he good', where it wasn't anything that people used to say to him about me when they saw me doing the same thing. So, while in most other situations, he's a very good person to talk to, in this situation it doesn't seem to work. When the little creature has ripped it's way out of your haa-hoo, and you've then got up three times a night to stay awake for an hour and a half trying to breastfeed, only to then have to spend a further half hour on a breast pump, and then it's taken seven months for the aforementioned haa-hoo to have all its stitches removed, and everyone having an opinion on how you should feed/clean/carry/dress/behave with your child, and all very keen on telling you on what you're doing as a mother and how your should be doing it better, your view of the world is different. I think there is so much opposition it forces you  into quite a strong little unit - you & your baby -, because you do have to reach the point where you have to just stand up, look the world squarely in the eye and say "Yes, I am formula feeding this child, and I'll carry him in a sling, and I will put him in a pink shirt every now and again and let him play with my Hello Kitty, and I will occasionally threaten to put him on eBay, and if you don't like it then I suggest you Go Get To Know Yourself Better". Boys don't have to do that, as far as I can see. They have their own societal crosses to bear, don't get me wrong, but they get less of a Thousand Yard Stare from the first year of childrearing. Other mothers know this, and they also know that having to give your child to someone else to look after can feel a lot like the bit in His Dark Materials when Lyra gets separated from her daemon. It's worth talking to other women to know you're not the only one who feels like this.

3) Feel like you're still a mummy

I mentioned last week that a lot of the feelings I have around nursery and leaving my child to go to work stem from the fact that I feel leaving him in a nursery means I'm not performing the role of his mummy. One way I've found around this has been to make sure I read the Chap a book before I go to work - for some reason that makes me feel like I've performed part of the act of being a mother. I've ticked a box. The other thing I've gone for has been a displacement activity to stop me stewing, combined with a bit of gender performance. All of a fluster, I went out and bought a knitting magazine last week and have been spending my time distracting myself by knitting my Chap a pair of socks. It's going quite well, and I'm having my first experience of knitting something that isn't a scarf. Good old Youtube for explaining the difficult bits in the patterns...

Go on, admit it - you covet my Doctor Who project bag.
You can get them from my lovely friend at Nicsknots, you know...

4) Wear all your nicest clothes.

The Good Shoes have come out, as have skirts & tights; I have worn a full face of makeup. It's been nice. Shallow, but nice. A one year old doesn't care if you're wandering round in tracksuit bottoms and a USSC Nostromo hoodie (which is part of their charm, certainly), but it's nice to get a bit dressed up and click clack along corridors pretending you're all efficient. And it's also nice to be reasonably confident that no-one will come along and wipe their snotty nose on your shoulder halfway through the day...


  1. And I always thought 'Gin Alley' looked so much fun it was an advertisement for Gordons.

  2. Yeyy knitting (I dont knit...)
    My mam bought Stevie a 'tiddlypeeps' doll.. it's a human-eque doll and it's pink, I am pleased :-)
    I'm also pleased that you're feeling a little better, I'm filling out applications at the moment and it is a real right brain fighting left brain situation *argh"
    You're so much more cultured than me haha
    I might also have that picture on my desk... or perhaps my classroom door?

    big love xx