Childcare. It’s good for the soul. 

Childcare. I was dreading the day I had to put Tom into childcare. It was imminent. I’d had a year off work, we had just moved to a new town where I knew nobody and my maternity leave was over. Also, I’m a pretty damn good nurse and I don’t want to give it up. I like working. And having adult conversations. There’s only so many times you can sing “Do The Propeller” by The Wiggles before committing yourself into an institution.

Like most mums (I imagine), I was absolutely dreading it. Tom has made it quite clear in his short life that no one but Mummy will do. Mummy has the boobs. Tom likes the boobs. (Yes. “Still.” Don’t make me get hardcore lactavist on you. I’ll do it.) He is a baby of the velcro kind, constantly wanting physical contact with his mother. ALL THE FUCKING TIME. While dad is usually fine and he gets the occasional delights from his grandparents/aunties/uncles, it’s really only mum’s hair he wants to pull and her face he wants to slap painfully with affection. So you can imagine my apprehension about leaving him with a roomful of strangers.

It’s important to note here that in the lead up to his first day, Tom had been a fucking nightmare. Not his fault, we’d rudely disrupted his schedule multiple times by shifting him from Townsville, Sydney, Brisbane, NZ, Narnia. You name it, we went there. He was clearly bewildered, frustrated and had upgraded his Velcro Baby status to Industrial Superglue baby. Sleep, while looking promising in the 3 weeks before we moved house, had quite definitely returned to its non-existent pattern of the 9 months previous. He could whine for Australia and was also teething. Lots happening for Master Q.

Leaving him without free access to the milk makers for half a day scared me shitless. I imagined the worst. Tears, screaming, yelling, the infamous flappy hands. And that was just from me. And of course the steaming hot pile of guilt that accompanies just about every decision I make in life now. Not to mention everyone and their mother warned me how horrific it is to leave your child in daycare; how sad and painful it is when they cry and scream because they don’t understand why you are leaving them; and the overwhelming guilt that you feel will make you feel like the shittest person in the world but don’t even worry about it, he’ll be fine Jen. Even though you feel like scum.

I needn’t have worried. He couldn’t have give 2 shits whether I was there or not. One look of apprehension around the room before his eyes widened after spotting a ball and then tried to physically leap out of my arms to play with it and never looked back. I walked out of the centre with my sunglasses on to hide my tears; holding back sobs until I got to my car and then loudly and unflatteringly cried all the way home.

I was sort of prepared for it. I expected to feel sick leaving him there. I expected to feel guilty and awful about the fact that I couldn’t look after him everyday anymore because I had to go back to work. And sure I guess I felt those things. But mostly I just felt so thankful that I didn’t have to look after him that day. I sobbed my heart out all the way home because I was relieved.

I WAS SO FUCKING RELIEVED. I felt free. This was pretty much the most time I had ever spent away from him. As my job hadn’t started yet I had a day where I COULD DO WHATEVER I WANTED. I can’t even begin to tell you how momentous that was. I could enjoy a hot shower for as long as I wanted – BY MYSELF! I could drink HOT coffee. I could paint my nails, straighten my hair, read a book, listen to MY music. I could sit in silence. I could cook whatever I wanted, go clothes shopping… I COULD FUCKING SLEEP!!!!!! The only guilt I felt was at how happy I was that I finally had a day to myself. He was safe, I’d expressed milk, it was only really half a day, he likes playing with other kids. Win-win.

In reality, I unpacked the rest of the boxes in our house whilst listening to podcasts, but I did it without a tiny human attached to me and it was the fucking best. I don’t even care that I sound heartless and probably a bit like I don’t love my child. Of course I do. He is the sun, moon and stars. He’s also a giant pain in the arse. Having a few hours to breathe and not have to sing nursery rhymes, change nappies, breastfeed and prepare meals all day felt like all my Christmases had come at once. You don’t appreciate that time before you have a baby and I know now to never take that time for granted again.

When I picked him up that afternoon, he was happily playing with some other children, babbling away. My heart swelled with love when I saw him. The ladies gushed over what a wonderful day he’d had. He’d napped, drank out of a bottle (a repeated battle in the past), played happily (apart from when he was bitten on the chin by a little girl who didn’t appreciate him pulling her hair for some reason. Go figure.) I was proud as punch and feeling good about this being a regular occurrence. It was then that he caught my eye and stopped everything, hurriedly crawling towards me before kneeling at my feet and began flapping his hands and screeching.

I narrowed my eyes. I’m wise to your tricks mister. Trying to make me feel guilty AF for leaving you here all day when I know you’ve had a perfectly nice time?

Well it worked. I scooped that kid up and smothered him in kisses while he gleefully wrapped his arms around my neck. Because God I love that baby.

Thank goodness for the knight in camouflage.

So I haven’t blogged in ages and don’t really have a good reason why other than the fact that we recently moved interstate, had 2 Christmases and then went overseas for 2 weeks. With a 10 month old. Because we like to live on the edge. Some tips on travelling overseas with a baby? Don’t, if you can possibly help it. The end.

In all seriousness, we had a wonderful time away. We got to watch our beautiful friends tie the knot in the most love filled, emotional ceremony I’ve ever been to. We got to hang out with old friends and make some new ones before setting off on a driving tour of New Zealand’s north island which is damn fine place to visit. Better still without the tiny human in tow, I’d venture. However, that is another post for another day. My renewed energy into the blogosphere came to me today when I locked myself and Thomas out of our house. Because adventure.

It’s happened to all of us at some time or another. If you’re lucky, you were baby-less. And it wasn’t 30 degrees with limited shade and no water or snacks for you or your child. You’d remember the code for the lock box at the side of your house that holds the spare key. You’d be able to reach your husband who has his own set of keys, as well as some impressive skills at breaking and entering (that you may need to bring up with him at some point.) Defence Housing would be able to tell you the numbers for the lock box and/or send round a locksmith. You wouldn’t have to wait for up to 3 hours for a locksmith to attend your residence even though it’s the middle of summer and you have an infant with you. You’d be able to open the side gates and attempt breaking in through the back of the house yourself, because the gates definitely wouldn’t be padlocked for some inexplicable reason. You wouldn’t then have to formulate a plan on how to jump the fence whilst holding a baby versus jumping it and leaving him at the front of the house where he will almost certainly cry/crawl onto the road/be kidnapped.

You definitely wouldn’t weigh up the pros and cons of dropping Tom over the back fence and wonder if the height of the fall will give him a head injury or just break his legs.

You wouldn’t have some helpful people tell you to “just go for a drive” while you wait for your husband to get home and then through gritted teeth have to explain that your house keys are with your car keys and thus you are without transportation. You wouldn’t swear blindly at your husband like it’s all his fault when he finally answers his phone and then hang up on him like a petulant child when he explains that the lock box has no key in it. And you most certainly wouldn’t fall into a heap on the front porch with your baby and cry together in frustration. Definitely not.IMG_6264

First world problems for sure, but fucking annoying all the same. I had this hopeless, helpless, damsel in distress vibe going on and I did not like it one bit. So naturally, I cried about it and waited for Mick to come rescue me. Which he did rather gallantly and selflessly, even though he was doing some very important man-business at work… (It’s been 6 years and I still don’t really know what he does day-to-day in that place.)

While I was waiting I had a rather lot of time to think. And what came to me was this: No matter how much I try to micro-manage and plan and be responsible for everything and everyone in my little family, sometimes things are just going to be shit. I got locked out of the house today because I forgot to pick up my keys before shutting the door, plain and simple. It was 100% my fault. Which is a rather disappointing conclusion to come to when you’re a ridiculous overachiever and think everything in life is your responsibility. And instead of treating this problem as the little blip in my day that it should have been, I overreacted and felt like this ultimate failure of a mother who can’t even remember to pick up her keys and potentially put her son at risk by not having water/snacks/sunscreen etc… Anyone else hear the stupid in that statement? For fuck’s sake.

So I wrote this post to put it in perspective and to give myself a break. Because I’m human. A glorious human who sometimes makes mistakes and needs rescuing every once in a while by a knight in camouflage.