I’ve been in the remarkably privileged position with Miss Rose of a) being a stay at home mother and b) never having to leave her anywhere she doesn’t want to be. I’ve never had a tearful farewell (on her part anyway) and I’ve never had to force her away from me. This is both because if she doesn’t want to go somewhere she’s never had to, I’m there, and because she’s the most confident little human ever who loves sleepovers and days out with people, and is the first into school with a grin on her face and a casual “bye mummy” over her shoulder before she’s gone.
Today that changed and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the confidence of sending off that I’ve felt until now, and I don’t think I’ll ever feel as secure in her absence.
We had a bad night last night. She’s having a hard time, adjusting to the baby news possible, maybe just a developmental stage, and she’s getting very stressed in the night. Then this morning, over tiredness mainly to blame I assume, she had the mother of all tantrums and exploded nuclear style. It meant that we were both fragile and tired all morning. And then it came time for her afternoon at school.
It all started out normally enough. She proudly carried her freshly framed and carefully sequined sonogram picture into school to show off her baby brother or sister. Her teacher admired it and she showed it round the other children and mums as we were getting her coat off. Lovely.
Then I went to leave. I gave her a kiss goodbye and her face suddenly crumpled.
“I don’t want you to go, mummy!” she suddenly wailed, then flung her arms around my neck and started sobbing.
I’ve never dealt with this before. Ever. I’ve actually expressed a desire (an ignorant, foolish and naive desire) for a little more acknowledgment of our impending time apart.
I picked her up and cuddled her, assured her it was only 3 hours and I would be back to pick her up like normal. She cried more and begged me not to leave.
The lovely teaching assistant whom she adores and regularly gives cuddles to picked up her from me and gave her a hug and promised me everything would be okay. I saw the look of betrayal, the look of desperation and hopeless misery on my little girl’s face. Her red, blotchy face with her mouth stretched in a howling square and her beautiful blue eyes red and seeping tears. She reached out for me, stretched over the TA’s shoulder to grab for me, and howled “Mummy mummy mummy” as if she was being beaten and I was refusing to do anything to stop it.
And then I walked away.
I walked away and left her in that state. I chose to do that to her. I didn’t have to. I had no plans this afternoon beyond the normal, I had no place I needed to be. I didn’t have a job I had to be at or an appointment I had to attend. I simply was choosing to leave my darling girl in that state rather than spend time with her.
And how I loathed myself for it.
By the time I reached my mum’s car outside where she was parked waiting I was in such a state I could hardly breathe. I was sobbing as much as Rose was. I felt guilty for leaving her, I felt pain because of her pain. Her little face with her desperate eyes and anguished cries was locked in my vision and I couldn’t think or see anything else. And I hurt. I hurt so intensely that I didn’t know how to cope.
My mum got herself so worried about both me and Rose that she decided to go and check. Said she’d peak through the window and speak to the teacher, just to reassure us both that she had indeed settled down once I had gone as I had been assured would happen.
It hadn’t happened. She was still crying. She was still distressed and sobbing. Her very lovely teacher assured her that they could cope if she wanted to leave her but, given the state she was in, a fresh start tomorrow wouldn’t be a bad thing. My mum opted to take her out. Said she couldn’t bare to leave her. She’d had to leave me because she had no choice and seeing Miss Rose in the same pain I had been in as a little girl was too much for her to bare. The teacher promised Miss Rose that tomorrow there would be the sand table and paints out ready, Miss Rose’s favourite things, and that they’d all be pleased to see her.
When I saw my mum walking out of the school gates with a sobbing Rose in her arms, I leapt from the car and my mum put Rose down on the path, then we ran into each others arms. I held onto her whilst we cried. I cried into her neck and held onto her head, smelled her hair and cuddled her tightly, sobbing in the middle of the path outside the school I will be visiting with her for the next decade or so, depending on where the next sprog goes to school.
Did I make the right decision in walking away from her in that state? I don’t know. I feel her trust in me is now shaken and when she’s already fragile with worrying about me being taken by the new baby maybe I’ve made it worse. Maybe I should have shown her that she is always my priority not time away from her. But maybe, seeing as she’s at some point going to HAVE to go to school, maybe getting this stage over with now is cruel to be kind. Getting it over in the short term so in the long term she’s happier and more relaxed.
Did my mum make the right decision in taking her out? I still don’t know. Maybe she was giving Miss Rose the reassurance she needs that her pain matters more than our convenience. Maybe she was respecting that after the day we’d had she was in no fit state to handle school and a quiet afternoon at home having cuddles was definitely the way to handle her. But maybe she’s taught her that kicking off and fussing will get her out of doing things she wants to do. Maybe now every day she’ll have a fuss just because she’s figured out it gets her out of it, even though she normally loved it. Maybe it’s given her a new weapon. She knows we’re easily broken by her sadness.
Being a mum is the hardest job in the world. I doubt every decision I make. I am usually certain that I’m going to have made the wrong decision and my baby is going to be damaged because of it. Time will tell what was right here. But, for now, all I can do is roll with it. What’s done is done and, for better or worse, I know I had her best interests at heart and I know I always want to do what’s best for her even when I get it wrong.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!