Friday, 10 February 2012

My Door to the Shed (Circular Walk)

In which the Chap and I take our first (short) walk in the snow together, and I feel bad about sending him to nursery.

Ordnance Survey: None required
Distance: 10 metres
Time: 5 minutes

Rating: Super easy

Should you wish to recreate this walk, I assure you that you do not need to come round to my house to do it. Indeed, your house or a friend's will do, and a shed is not required. You do need a quantity of snow and a small child on the cusp of walking if you want to be completely true to the post, however.
It has not been a week for walking in the UK. On Sunday it snowed, and while a lot of us diligently cleared our paths (or, in our case, the next door neighbour's kids cleared the path. We gave them salt and a shovel and our gratitude.), the bits of the pavement that weren't cleared got tramped down and then it all froze and now the paths are part tarmac, part ice-rink. While I remember ChapDad and I disappearing off up Pitstone Hill in the snow a couple of years ago, with the Chap I am more reticent...

The Chap and I have hidden indoors a fair bit because of this, which has been a shame because this has been my last week at home. I return to work on Monday. I hope to continue doing my walking and posting here once I'm back. I'll see how it goes.

We did go for a walk, however, and a significant one - the Chap's first walk in the snow. We had matching wellies and everything.

The Chap is not yet walking completely unaided, but he will go a fair way if you're holding his hand. I carried him into the garden (we have some steps to negotiate) and plonked him down in the snow. As we can see, he looked plaintively back at his father, as if to ask if he really had to be doing this. Hadn't we noticed all this white stuff? Honestly, mother...

A few steps down the garden, you will
notice a shrub to your right.
Heading back to the house.

So all I really managed to do this week was either drive places (such as to a friend's, where - to steal a phrase from Jeremy Hardy - my performance of Florence and the Machine's Dog Days Are Over on Wii karaoke gave a whole new meaning to the phrase 'extraordinary rendition'.) or stay at home and have nice people around for cups of tea. It's been nice, actually, particularly as the Chap has been teething like billy-o.

It's also been a good distraction from him going to nursery. I've thought about posting about this, I've thought about not posting. I thought about why I started this blog, and about the way I felt that lots of women think the same way about babies and children, but we are culturally compelled to remain silent for fear of being branded a bad mother. So I thought I should post about it, even though it's something I don't really want to dwell on.

I don't want to really think about the Chap going to nursery, and the problem is I find myself wearing my judgey-pants in a way I wouldn't be if I was hearing the story about someone else. I feel that people (people? who are these people? where are they?) think that I am being stupid; inconsistent. I spent the first six months crying because the Chap was here - now I'm crying because he has to go away from me for three days a week..

Actually, one of those days is fine - ChapDad has rejigged his work so he now has Wednesdays off to do childcare, so the Chap only needs to be in nursery two days a week. I don't really like the nursery he's in, but it's very convenient for where I work and the little girl (I keep saying this - she must be at least 18) who's his key worker is nice and doesn't look evil.

It's weird, we leave the Chap for 2 - 3 hours every Saturday morning for therapy with barely a backward glance, but on Monday when I had to leave him for 90 minutes for his settling in session, I wandered round the supermarket like he'd died. It was awful. There was a woman throwing her baby round and cooing in the cereals aisle and I wanted to cry. I wanted to punch her. I wanted to run away.

It's really, really confusing. Mostly because when he goes into nursery, the stuff I have going on in my head, on average, is this:

  • He was really upset last time I left him.
  • She said he looked at the door every time it opened ("so do I!" says the ChapDad). He was looking for me and I wasn't there.
  • I wasn't there. I'm his mummy and I wasn't there.
  • I'm not doing my job. I'm his mummy and I'm not being his mummy because I'm not there.
  • I'm being selfish going back to work.
  • But isn't not having any money and dying in penury more selfish?
  • How else does the mortgage etc get paid?
  • It'll be nice to be able to wear my shoes again.
  • I'd rather wear high heels than look after my child. I'm his mummy but I'm not there. I'm not being his mummy.
  • Is this early abandonment going to screw up his relationships with women in the long term? It's only recently I've started to realise how big an impact being sent to school had on me and my relationships, and this is even earlier. This is a really bad plan.
  • You're being ridiculous. You also used to worry about leaving the cat when you went to work.
  • He's not a cat.
  • Maybe he would be upset less if I'd taken him to more groups.
  • They'll look after him better than you do. They have to give him attention. You give him a wooden spoon and leave him to get on with it while you tappety tap on the computer. Selfish selfish.
  • It'll be nice to do a job that will finish at a set time rather than carrying on and on and on.
  • What if he doesn't eat?
  • What if he doesn't nap? We've always cuddled & sung him to sleep. She says they won't do that at nursery. What if they leave him to cry it out?
  • They won't leave him to cry it out. You asked them and they said they don't. Also, crying it out would be impractical when all the children are napping in the same room.
  • But what if they do? He'll be crying for me. I'm his mummy and I'm not there. This is my fault for resenting how he'd destroyed my life after I'd had him.
And on and on it goes in a downward spiral of endless self-pity about how I'm a terrible person who didn't deserve to have him where there are so many women who are desperate for children who can't have them but would be way better mothers than me, blah blah blah. I start boring myself after a while.

The bottom line, that I smack myself around the head with, is this:

You have no choice. Suck it up.

There are no nearby grandparents to impose upon, childminders have a higher child-adult ratio than they do in nurseries (nurseries it's something like 2 or 3:1, whereas childminders are 5:1 not including their own children, so one person with 2 children can legally be looking after 7 children, and the Chap needs more watching than that.). There is one option. This is the option. Live with it.

So that's what's going on in my head. I spoke to my friend who works 2 days a week, and she said she felt the same when she went back to work, but that it does get better. I'm hoping this is the case.

Things I Learnt

  • Small people walking in wellies are supercute.
  • I have always been a sucker for The Whatifs.
  • It's only two days. It's two days. It's two days. It's two days. He did not, as the ChapDad pointed out, spend the first 6 weeks of his life coming off heroin because I'd been using while pregnant. I could be a lot worse. It's two days. It's only two days.


  1. it's 2 days :-) you've done a fantastic job getting it to that. If you were selfish you'd have him in childcare 12 hours a day 5 days a week since he was 3 months. you're not selfish :-)

    lots of love

  2. Left brain says - two days. Honestly. Get over it.

    Right brain doesn't make a lot of sense sometimes, but damn, it's noisy.

  3. Good, now stop beating yourself up for being human.

  4. I spent my first eight months in a hospital with strangers looking after me. I went to hospitals regularly and was prodded and poked by strangers and taken into dark rooms where my mummy wasn't allowed. I spent three months in a hospital when I was three being looked after by strangers. In between I knew my mummy loved me. David will be fine even if he takes a little time to settle - honest!