Tomorrow is Rori’s first day at family day care. I’ll be dropping her off at 8am and her dad will pick her up before 2pm.
The logical me tells me that she’ll be fine, that she’ll likely cry for a while, but swiftly realise she’s getting cuddles and smiles from the lovely Cathy and go about her usual day of eating, napping, giggling, blowing raspberries and putting absolutely everything in her mouth. The emotional me is telling the logical me to go to hell and is rocking gently in a corner, holding onto Rori tighter than a Biggest Loser contestant holding onto their last piece of cheesecake.
I was rarely accused of lacking strong emotional responses to life before Rori, and I certainly couldn’t be accused of it now. I’m sure that my emotions might one day even match what’s going on at the time. I’ve shown great compassion to idiots then become red mist mad at an incorrect indication on a roundabout, cried at forgetting to pick up yoghurt at shopping and laughed til I snorted at people falling over on TV. All in the space of an afternoon.
One emotion that really seems to have been turned up to 11 though is guilt. Yowsers. Mother guilt is astonishingly powerful and can strike at any time, regardless of whether I’ve actually done anything that could possible incur a debt of guilt. The guilt I feel at dropping Rori off at daycare is off the scale. How can a mother who loves her baby leave her with a stranger? How will I forgive myself for placing her in a place where she will cry, and I won’t be there to cuddle away her tears? What kind of selfish bitch goes back to her life before her baby is old enough to understand that mummy has gone, but she’ll be back soon?
I’ve read plenty of research that shows that babies who have some care outside the family tend to be resilient, that they show great independence and that their bond with their parents is not weakened in any way by the 10 – 12 hours a week Rori will spend hanging out with the other three babies at Cathy’s house. And I want Rori to be stronger than I was as a child. I was that painfully shy kid who didn’t make it through kindy, who hid in the library at lunchtime rather than make friends and who still freezes at the thought of walking into a room where I don’t know anyone. And I want her to have a mum who exists in the world and teaches her that good things do not come to those who wait – they go to those who go out hard after them.
So far, Rors has shown herself to be fearless and resilient. She gives her cuddles and smiles to friends and family generously and bounced back from life in a splint, a tongue tie cut and baby colds without losing her customary cheekiness and light. I hope she is stronger than her mum tomorrow. I can only hope I’m strong enough to drop her off with a smile and a cuddle before I lose it. Thank god I’ll be busy at the ABC all day until its time to come home and cover her with kisses again. If you talk to me tomorrow, be gentle with me. I may break into a thousand pieces.