Friday, August 29, 2008

One Foot Out Of The Nest

Karen’s maternity leave officially ends next Tuesday. After a year of being a full-time mum and house-frau she’s returning to work (part-time) with more than a little ambivalence.

Re-embracing the politics and work ethics of your place of employment is never a joyous occasion when you’ve been away for any length of time but this reunion is going to be even harder as it necessitates sending Tom – now 11 months old – to nursery 5 days a week.

I must admit Karen and I are finding the concept difficult to accept. But he’s so tiny... and so cute! He’s too lovely to be out on his own in the big bad world! Even though some parents (I won’t say quite happily) farm their kids out to nurseries from as early an age as 3 months...

It’s all been rather emotional. Tom has now had four “tester” sessions at the nursery over the last 2 weeks to help get him acclimatized to the new environment and to bond with his carer. And to be honest he’s doing ok. A few tears here and there but never for very long and he’s been relaxed enough to eat their strange food and even to nod off for a nap or two...

But despite his easy compliance Karen and I feel like we’re packing him off to Gordonstoun or abandoning him at a train station with a load of other evacuees... each gripping brown suitcases containing their favourite toy and a bottle of Calpol, wondering if the people at the farm will treat them nicely and when will they ever see their dear old mum and dad again?

Tom is developing quite a taste for Vera Lynn.

At the end of the day though Tom seems to be taking it all in his stride. I guess kids are very adaptable. It’s Karen and me who are taking it the hardest. Letting him go. Watching him stumble a few branches away from the nest before we snatch him back into the safety of our arms once more.

Growing up is so difficult. Certainly as a participant but definitely as a spectator...

13 comments:

Brother Tobias said...

It must be very hard. You can absolve yourselves with the thought that this is not really a choice, but a necessity. And if it's any consolation, when I was small my parenting was shared with au pairs and grandparents (enabling my mother and father to get away sailing from time to time). Far from feeling neglected, it was good to have the stimulation and variety of these extra 'in loco' parents (and I learned a few choice Swedish swear words to boot). You'll be able to put more into the times you are together, as well.

Steve said...

It is a necessity Brother T, but that doesn't lessen the sense of guilt any... and for all we're undoubtedly enriching Tom's experiences of life and socializing him (which is always a good thing) we can't help thinking "if only..." I was lucky to have a stay at home mother until I was well into school and a part of me would love Tom to have that too... unfortunately it's a very different world now and such a childhood is a luxury rather than the norm.

Deirdre said...

I do feel for you both...having been there 23 yrs ago! I cried every morning as I drove away from the nursery where I had to leave my 8 month son.....but everything works out in time and he met his best friend there....two tinies playing together who are now grown men and still mates. As hard as it was at the time (and here I have to confess Steve that I am a L'Spa girl....we even had a period of time where I would drive backwards and forwards to Leamington each day from Bham so that Grandma and Grandpa could care for him...but at the end of the day the nursery worked out best) ..it does socialize the children..and in my long lost youth I spent time as an au pair so have seen all sides of the picture....don't feel guilty- the time you spend with your children is so precious and fleeting and to be cherished....

Steve said...

Thanks Deirdre, it's always good to here from a L'Spa girl! Each time we've taken him it's felt easier and though he still has a teary moment or two they are never for very long or very severe... and he's right as rain again within minutes. Next week will be the real test of course as he starts "full time" Mon-Fri...!

The Sagittarian said...

Aw, I recall those days!! I still feel like that sometimes even now and my eldest is in her first year at High School!! The choice of daycare is paramount, the minute you feel uncomfortable about ANY aspect get him out...I went thru 2 daycares before we got the right one for ouor babes and we are still good friends with the supervisor from there all these years later. What I found was that babies really ARE resilitant, they only know how to communicate by crying or laughing...they cry til they get what they want (attention) and in a good day care they will get that very quickly, as soon as they feel safe they enjoy their day. Tom will be fine, and this is but the first loosening of those strings..not "apron" but the "our baby is growing up and we have to let him do it" strings. You will all be fine.

Steve said...

Thanks Amanda, Tom does seem to be coping well with the new regime and each time Karen has dropped him off she's felt warmer about the nursery too. It is a good one with the added bonus that it's right next door to and affiliated with Ben's school so they're not too far away from each other.

per.pri said...

Crikey! I really don't know how anyone can do it Massive kudos to parents.

I like reading it from your perspective, helps me understand my parents a bit better. Thanks Steve. :)

P.S. I'm going private and would like to email you an invite, unfortunately I cannot seem to find your email address to enable me to do this (or I am being excessively dim...). Sooo...if you would like to continue to follow my madness please email me at:
p3rpriATyahooDOTcoDOTuk

Take it easy! And good look to yourself, Karen and little Tpm with the big changes ahead. :)

Steve said...

Hi per.pri, being a parent has certainly opened my eyes to my parents too... I can remember my mum telling me exasperatedly that one day I'd know what it was like...! As for your going private - I quite understand and will drop you an email asap!

Reluctant Blogger said...

Yeah I know those feelings. I hated leaving mine too. My daughter went to a nursery for four half days a week from when she was about Tom's age and she seems to have turned out OK. She can't remember a thing about it - good or bad! Like Amanda says, go with your instincts. It sounds ideal that it is next to the school - it'll make his transition to proper school very easy for him.

Steve said...

Hi RB, nice to see you back! Yeah, the fact the nursery is "part of" the big school was also a major factor... means he won't feel such an upheaval when he starts infant school and hopefully he'll take a few friends with him from nursery too.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Just imagine him at 30 in a nappy in your house, eating your food, no job, expecting his nappy still to be changed.

'Coz that's what'll happen if he's too mollycoddled!

Just teasing :-) - I'm sure he's merely well looked after.

kate5kiwis said...

you could move the tribe to NZ??? live on a farm. eat your own sheep. have chickens. become a hobbit.... X

Steve said...

Kate, that sounds a wonderful idea... and already have the hairy feet...!