A friend with a one year old asked me if “it has all gone fast” the other day. “It” is being a mother and “gone fast” is Max’s ‘baby years’. I replied “yes and no”, because yes…wowee I have a two-year old, but it has not been sudden. I still remember the sleep deprivation, the sterilizing, the puree, the sore nipples and I remember living in the process. The process of Max becoming a toddler who crawled, walked and has not stopped running since and I feel very privileged to be a part of that process.
This week I left Max at nursery. I have been settling him into nursery for a long time and it has been one of the hardest things I have had to do since becoming a madre. I don’t even know how many ‘settling in’ sessions we have had – it has been that many – much to the dismay of family and friends who simply look at me in horror and say “you haven’t left him yet?!”
It is not as simple as yes or no. Since pregnancy and birth I have been bombarded with bonding rituals and ideas and ideals and chances are that you have too and then one day you are expected to take your mini human to nursery, turn your back and walk away. It feels like the most un-natural thing to do and it certainly isn’t something that just happens overnight or falls into place. It takes a lot of work, trust and bravery.
Firstly, just finding the right nursery is half the battle – it is up there with finding the dream house, husband, labour ward and buggy. Much like house hunting, when you find THE one YOU know. I walked into Max’s nursery and instantly felt happy and at ease with the environment, the staff and their ethos. Secondly, the staff – these are the people who are going to help your child grow into an awesome human – ask them all the questions. Apparently I am that parent – the staff at Max’s nursery most probably think I am a loon, but “for the first time in forever” I don’t care. I am a mother, give it to me straight, I haven’t got time for nonsense – I have to clean somewhere with a wet wipe stat. Cah-PEESH? Communication is key. Thirdly, ‘settling in’ sessions – the best gift a nursery can give you – use and abuse these chunks of gifted time. My nursery allows for 6 ‘settling in’ sessions, but I have friends who have had half of that. As with everything in life – there is wiggle room and you can negotiate. Also get settled, find your peg, check the exits and get comfortable because you could be there for 2 sessions or 10. One size does not fit all and that is OK.
Today marks my third “turn your back and walk away’ day, so please know that I have no clue what I am doing and I am by no means an expert, but this is and has been my experience and it is true what they say – it does get better/you get tougher. Trust that the nursery have yours and his best interests in mind, trust that he will eat, play and learn, trust that he/you will cry, but trust me – he will be OK.
Since starting our nursery journey I have noticed a huge change in Max and for the better and it is amazing. Amazing, amazing. Grab a cracker and some relish because here comes the cheddar, but wow. Max has gone from being a very shy and clingy toddler to an independent and curious kid who wants to make you laugh and it honestly feels me with the most overwhelming pride. The dread of leaving him is always forgotten and replaced with the most incredible high when the nursery tell me what he has been up to or what he did in my absence and honestly it is worth it.
So it is official, Max is growing up and learning to let go and reach out for new experiences, but I am still part of the process and even though we are not at our destination yet, I am trying to enjoy and learn from the journey.