I’m leaving my baby

OK, so technically she may not be much of a baby any more. At 14 months, Frog is learning to be an independent little creature, but seeing as that independence means a refusal to get up on her own two feet and walk I’m going to continue to call her a “baby” until she shows me otherwise.

So, leaving my baby. I hate it.

On Wednesday, for the first time ever, Frog will be left with someone she barely knows. Now, before you go thinking I’m being precious and sentimental, I’m not. The work situation and the cost of childcare means that it makes more sense to do radio shifts (where I have to put proper clothes on and leave the house) during school holiday time, when Daddy Daycare steps in.

But every now and again there is an exception to the rule. In order to keep my accountant happy I am forced, occasionally, to take on work from home and work from work during term time. This means that Frog has to go to a childminder.

Now, despite my initial fears, Frog passed her first interview – with flying colours in fact. She was accepted by her new childminder on an “ad hoc” basis, as and when she would need to be looked after. Which isn’t very often really.

But we’ve seen a change in Frog recently. Whether it’s the usual seperation anxiety kicking in, a hangover from last week’s chicken pox or a result of me working endlessly over the school holidays and her barely seeing me, Frog is an insecure wreck.

I walked into our usual baby and toddler group this morning and she started wailing, waving her arms shouting “Up, up” (or “uuuuh uuuuuh”). Inevitably she was fine after a few minutes, once she knew I wasn’t going anywhere. And then she ditched me for her new playmates.

But then we went to the new childminder for “settling in”. Frog started screaming as soon as we got there. In typical fashion she calmed down once she realised I wasn’t leaving her, but the tears started again when there was a loud noise she didn’t recognise, or the childminder got a bit too close. At that point, Frog was literally pulling at my leg, desperate to be in my arms. It would take a stronger woman than I to ignore her.

But that’s exactly what I’ll have to do on Wednesday.

I’ll have to pass her over, screaming, turn around and walk away from her. Knowing she’s beside herself with panic, I’ll have to get into my car and drive to work. And then I’ll have to work for a full eight hours, not knowing how she is, but worrying every moment that she’ll be unhappy and crying.

I’m a nervous wreck.

I know that if our situation was different I’d have had to have leave her in a nursery or with a childminder by now. I know that many parents do it, my own included. I know she won’t suffer any lasting damage.

It’s just that long walk back down the path, towards my car, and that long drive to work. I hate the thought that my baby will be crying and it won’t be me, or her dad, or her grandparents, or any other adult she’s “used to” to comfort her. Hate it.

It’s not even like it’s a regular thing. The crying is something we’ll probably have to endure every time we go to the childminder, because it’s going to be such a random event. There’s no “routine” to settle into, no “getting used to” the situation. And it makes me feel like a terrible mother.

So I want your advice. Have you been in a similar situation? What did you do? Any tips to help stop these heart palpitations would be much appreciated. And don’t suggest wine. I’ve tried that already.

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26 Comments

Filed under Baby stuff, Being a mum, Development, Work

26 responses to “I’m leaving my baby

  1. I wish I could help. I can say that you’re not a terrible mother. Work is work, it’s necessary, and you have to do what you have to do. And it’s always more difficult when you can’t settle into a routine or set schedule, that always seems to help kids (and parents).

    We’ve been lucky enough here that I have been able to just stay at home and take care of our daughter. Of course, I’ve been home so much I’m going a little stir crazy, but that’s another story. Maybe that’s the thing to think about. It’s great that you can get out of the house, get away a little and work. It’s hard to leave the little one, but just think about that “coming back” moment. She will be so happy to see you when you return, and being away can help you get sorted out, so to speak, so you’ll be ready to focus on her after work. Just a thought.

    • What a brilliant way to think about it. Rather than imagining her screaming all day I’ll have to imagine her face when she sees me at the end of it. Hopefully she’ll have forgiven me by then and she’ll be smiling!

  2. Yup, I’ve tried wine too. I find it so hard when I have to leave my children somewhere, even when they’re happy to be left. ‘What if?’ my little heart always asks, ‘They need me…’ Which, of course, they always do. But if you never leave them they’ll never learn to be independent. She misses you which shows what a great job you’re doing, it would be odd if she didn’t howl when you left. I’ve had months of this settling my three older ones into nursery and school and it doesn’t get easier. What helps is seeing how they develop in different ways when with different people, and (selfishly?) how much I get out of being a worker bee from time to time. Good luck and always remember that you’re not being a horrible mum but a good one.

    • It’s good to know I’m not the only one! I know it’s something most parents have to go through, which sort of helps me just suck it up. But I think the fact that I don’t HAVE to leave her makes me feel guilty for doing so. Then again, I know she’ll probably have a brilliant day once she’s over the fact I’m not there. And I get to put on clothes that aren’t caked in milk or mud, which is always a bonus.

  3. Let me look after my little friend more often? Xx

  4. The little man is going through a stage where he is not keen on being held by other adults except those he knows well. In fact, as he doesn’t see his paternal grandparents regularly, he won’t even go near his grandad and buries his face in my body if he gets too close. For a time I was concerned that he NEEDED to go to childcare and spending too much time with his mummy was making him clingy which seems to imply you can’t win either way. I have concluded that children are resilient and as long as they have a loving family life they will turn out alright in the end. It sounds like Frog gets plenty of mummy and daddy time so try not to feel too guilty – although I do completely feel for you. Hope it goes well.

    • Thank you. And you’re so right, I’m sure. My practical side tells me she will be fine etc, it’s just the idea of walking away from her when she’s screaming that I’m dreading.

  5. wordsfallfrommyeyes

    Be strong! You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. You’re lucky you have Daddy Daycare.

  6. What worked for me was the childminder called me as I got in the car and held the phone up so I could hear the silence. She ll be fine so will you x x

  7. Good luck!! I love the check up phone call idea, gives you a bit of peace of mind. It will get easier as she gets older as she’ll remember more. Think most important thing is that she does like it there, and is happy playing with her playmates. Its just a part of her misses you for a bit. Hope it goes well. xx

  8. DSW

    Could you not book her in one day a week whether you are working or not so that she does have a “routine” or sorts and gets used to the idea of going?

    My little lady absolutely loves her CM – and has been going there for 8 years now, her CM is like an extension of grandparents.

    I am sure your baby will be fine but can completely understand the wrench you are feeling – the first time will be the hardest and then it will get easier 🙂

    Good luck with all and enjoy your Job!!!

    • It’s not possible to book her in one day a week, and as it’s only a couple of weeks here and there, with no visits at all some months it would end up costing more than I would make working. But it’s good to know other children love it – and I’m sure F will be the same. Harder for me than her I expect!

  9. No advice from me but I hope it gets easier on you. I’m probably going to have to do this sooner than 14 months, sadly, and I’m dreading it already. But as someone else said, children are resilient. By the way, my mum had my bro when I was 15 months and she very much considered me a baby. I think you can easily still call Frog that. 🙂

    • Ah that’s good, it’s hard to think of her as a “toddler” when she’s not actually toddling yet! The whole work thing is a complicated one. I love my job and we need the money – but that doesn’t make it any easier having to leave F when I go to work, even when it’s just with her dad!

  10. Hellie

    It is tough. My coping strategy was to look forward to something in the car, so I bought Harry Potter on CD and let Stephen Fry calm me down. It is very useful when you have a longish car journey back to your LO. I find that being at work you go into work mode and more or less forget you have children (sorry baby but I do). What I hate is finishing work ready to be back in mummy mode and have to wait the 30 minute journey before i can pick her up, So I am now on HP book 5 ! It does get easier though I promise. Good luck xx

  11. Jo

    Ugh really feel for you – the first day is the toughest and I promise you it gets easier! Definitely get your child minder to phone or text you at least once in the day (they’ll be used to it I’m sure!). I used to phone my daughter’s nursery at lunchtime everyday for a reassuring check up call – took me about 6 months not to but they didn’t mind at all and really helped me. And remember the reasons why you’re leaving them to work, I found that sugared the pill. Also def agree with Hellie’s suggestion of something to look forward to – a Pret hot choc was my treat! Good luck, as with so many things, the anticipation/dread is far worse than the reality..

  12. my only tip would be dont hang around at the child minders house too long when your dropping frog off. she’ll know you are feeling a little anxious and you don’t want to prolong the inevitable!
    I was a nightmare when i used to drop off my first son at nursery. I’d linger in the door way doing this stupid ‘should I stay or should i go’ thing. At one point I thought he was gunna take the nursery roof down with his screaming.Then one day I thought it might be best to peer through the window outside instead. When I looked in on him he had totally moved on from the trauma with in minutes of me disappearing.Clearly the tears were for my benefit only. 😉

    • You’re so right about the tears. It was her first day today and apparently she was all smiles less than ten minutes after I’d left. Didn’t make it any easier leaving her but at least I know she’ll be fine next time!

  13. Read this and felt very anxious for you, so pleased that I read your last reply and that she was ok 10 mins after you’d left. DD started nursery properly this week, only a couple of hours but I’ve been fretting about it too. It’s a rite of passage for Mummy and the little one I think, and it makes us both stronger.

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