It seems an age since I last blogged, but I guess I've been happily meandering in the bliss that is being a full time parent (no sarcasm either, this is without doubt the best job in the world). With school holidays kicking in and then Christmas my life has just been happily rolling on. Nothing overly exciting to report, which, when you have kids, is not a bad thing at all.
However, my tour of duty is coming to an end and there are certain things that must be done to prepare for our (the whole family's really) lives. One of those things is child care.
As I mentioned way back when, I've been going to the local library to socialise the cutest one, but sadly my own feelings of discomfort have prevented me doing much other baby socialising. I did go to a playgroup once though and while the little one enjoyed it, playing with all sorts of different toys, but essentially ignoring all the other children, I hated it. Whilst there were a couple of mums (one from the library group), who actively went out of there way to chat, the rest (some 8 or 9) basically treated me with some sort of rude indifference or a patronising and condescending tone, as if I had no right being there, as if I was interrupting their day. I was out of place and didn't feel particularly welcome. Needless to say I didn't go back. Burnt once I didn't bother trying any other playgroups. Afterall it was a convenient excuse for me not to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I had to talk to strangers (my own mum taught me not to talk to strangers). Oh and yes I'm completely aware that I could have made more effort and tried harder, but heck, my heart wasn't in it. I suppose with that attitude it was always destined to fail.
So the mouse's socialisation with children of a like age was limited to our weekly library visits (which in the end I quite enjoyed) and the occasional visit to friends with little ones. I admit it, it's been my biggest failure as a full time parent. And it will make the next bit of her and my lives all that more difficult.
This week she had orientation at child care. It seems a nice place with nice carers and the mouse did a lot better than I expected. We were there for an hour, together, and whilst one carer asked me stuff, and told me stuff, the mouse just wandered and explored. She picked up unusual toys (to her) and played with them. She watched the other kids, and they watched her. She even managed to be in the same space as one of the other little girls and tried to share a dolly she was holding. That moment reaffirmed to me why she needs this. She needs to make friends and learn how to play nicely with them. Her exposure has mostly been Lord Vader and I and two doting siblings who are much older than her. She needs this. It'll be good for her.
Next week she has two half days of orientation, by herself. Just anticipating what I'm going to feel when I drop the cutest one off to be left alone, with strangers, finally allows me to sympathise with Lord Vader who many years ago had to go through the same heart wrenching thing with the other two kids. I'll feel guilty at abandoning my poor defenceless child. I'll worry that these strangers won't look after her properly. I'll be frightened that something bad will happen to her because I'm not there to protect her. And most of all, I'll just miss being with her, that moment when she drifts off to sleep in my arms, or that wonderful laugh when I tickle her.
And it would be remiss of me not to mention her feelings. Because I haven't socialised her more, this is going to be traumatic for her. She'll miss ME. She needs me to be there for cuddles, and laughs, and reassurance, and to make the tears go away, and to make her feel special and I'M forcibly denying her these things that SHE NEEDS.
I'm not looking forward to it at all.
I know I'm not a BAD parent for doing this, but heck, what is wrong with irrational emotional feelings from time to time. She'll live. She'll be so happy when I pick her up and yeah, she'll learn to enjoy it too. She'll learn new things, she'll make new friends, and she'll start growing up just that bit more. Perhaps that is one of the things I hate the most. She'll grow up without me, and I'll miss it.
PS. Thank you Lord Vader for giving that up so that I could experience it. It means more than I can explain.