Today was our little girl’s third settling in day at playschool. She was there for two hours, ten to twelve, same as Monday and Wednesday. I packed her little pink bag with all her little bits and pieces and we headed off just like before. Monday and Wednesday had been difficult enough and walking away had been as hard as I thought it would be. Today was different though. For some reason I found it even more arduous than before. I walked to the car in tears, my husband at the other end of the phone at pains to know how to comfort me. It wasn’t that she was upset, in fact, quite the opposite. She is fascinated by other little children and she couldn’t get down onto the floor quick enough to engage with them. Perhaps as the time draws closer, it’s just becoming more real.
So many of my friends with children warned me not to allow the thoughts of returning to work sour the last few weeks of my maternity leave, that they now regretted wallowing in the inevitable rather than enjoying what was left of their time. And so I have taken their advice as best I can, trying to relish every last bit of free time I have with her. It’s tough though, now that the time is almost upon us not to let it creep in and bother you.
I did the shopping while they had her, thought I’d use the time productively. Shopping can be difficult with an infant and I usually do it at the weekends when my husband is home, grabbing the bit of ‘me time’ to run around without the buggy. But here I was, stumbling around the supermarket, feeling like I’d lost an arm. I stared enviously at other parents there who had the privilege of breaking their children’s squabbles up and wrestling with them till they sat still in their trolley seats. I willed noon to come around quickly so that I could rescue her and we could both run off into the sunset and let someone else deal with the cold harsh realities of paying mortgages and settling gas bills!
At five to twelve I arrived at the playschool giddy with excitement at picking her up and swearing I’d never tut at a pooey nappy again. Was it terrible of me to secretly hope she had pined and cried for me while I was gone? The truth was thankfully nothing of the sort. The little scamp was absolutely fine, playing with her new found friends on the floor and giggling and leaping towards me when she spotted me, arms outstretched. And so we headed off, temporary reprieve granted at least, for one more week.