Yesterday, I picked Austin up from the Childminder. He was flying along in his walker with his Batman cape fluttering behind him. He cried when he saw me and put his arms up for me to lift him, but he couldn’t fool me – he had been smiling. Without me.
At first I was delighted, he had been having a great time. The Childminder told me that she was surprised at how quickly he was settling in. He didn’t cry after nap time much any more and he was eating his food like a horse. He was loving all the older kids and followed them everywhere, trying to get in on the action. I was pleased as punch as I drove him home.
But the more I thought about him being happy with the minder and her kids, the more I realised there was a small part of me that wanted to curl into a ball and cry until I threw up.
Two weeks ago I was terrified that he wouldn’t settle. I worried that he wouldn’t eat if I wasn’t there to play Airplane or sleep without me singing a lullaby first. I focused on organising the house like my life depended on it, because it helped me stop crying.
But he is ok. He is doing fine without me. He is even smiling and having fun. As I pulled into my driveway yesterday, I knew that I should feel nothing but relief and happiness about this.
But I didn’t.
Part of me wondered if he wasn’t bothered by me leaving him because I just wasn’t a very good mom.
Part of me is loosing confidence as his routine changes and I can’t tell what he needs instantaneuosly anymore. Part of me is so angry about having to leave him every day that I want to tear the walls down and scream until the whole world is covering their ears. Part of me wants him to scream and cry until the minder tells me that I will just have to give up work because my baby needs his mommy.
And part of me, the very worst part, finds office work a little easier than being at home with him. I don’t have to be ‘on’ every moment of the day. I can take a break without fear of a collegue eating something off the floor or pulling the dog’s tail or sticking a finger in a socket. Maybe if I do it long enough, I won’t want to spend all my days with him any more. And that is my dirtiest and most secret fear.
He got the sniffles. All he wanted was cuddles and backrubs and to have a good cry about feeling rotten. He rubbed his snotty little nose on my neck and roared directly into my ear and I thanked my lucky stars that this was my day off so I could sing lullabies at nap-time and play Airplane when he wouldn’t eat.
I’m almost certain there are other mom’s out there with these awful secret thoughts and I reckon the only way to beat them back is to talk about them – to laugh them off. I was upset that he was smiling without me but I am not a bad mom… I’m almost certain…