I had to drop my daughter off at nursery this morning and I am traumatized. Although I think more damage was done to me than her. The focus is always on the “bahbey” and oh, they come through the birth canal or are yanked out of your stomach (in my case) and are distressed. “Poor bahbey.” And to this I say, no, not….poor bahbey. We should be saying “poor mohmmy.”
Now, take a second to think about this before jumping on me with counter arguments like, “they’re so little…and their emotions haven’t yet developed.” Or “they can’t walk or talk yet.” Blah blah blah. Minor details. We/Us mamas, are the ones with our hearts being broken as our child sobs as a complete stranger shoves a Sophie the Giraffe in her face. You want to shout, “Um no, she prefers elephants not giraffes actually and her eyesight is pretty good so no need to put it 2 cm from her eyeballs” but you don’t. Instead you listen to the stranger’s orders. “Stand back….don’t make eye contact. Tell her bye…smile as she sobs and reaches out for you. Walk out confidently.” Suuuuuure. I turn just to give a fake cheerful and overly perky wave and in a shaky voice tell her to “have fun” only it sounds more like “ave un” because I can barely swallow let alone speak before I am immediately ushered into a brutal waiting room with other sobbing moms.
She’s now starting her second week of nursery so fingers crossed it goes a little bit better for her and me both. But, until then, I’ll just have to deal. I’ve learnt that “dealing with it” in mommyhood means that you need to do the following steps repeatedly:
1) Acknowledge that it sucks.
2) Cry in the shower.
3) Google things at all hours of the night and wear waterproof mascara and tons of blush to make yourself look perky and well put together.
In the meantime though, I’ve put together a list of instructional advice to help you, as a mom, get through that dreaded “settling period.”
1) Make friends with the owner of the nursery and convince her to install a CCTV camera to track your child. Have a backup tracking device implanted somewhere on little one in case CCTV fails you.
2) Make friends with a fellow mom so that you can sob and braid each other’s hair in the waiting area. This will make the time pass more quickly as you ask each other dull questions that neither of you will hear the answers to while trying to stay busy and not focused on isolating your child’s cry from all the white noise in nursery. Six months later you will realize that her name is in fact Maya and not Julia, and she will realize you are a writer and not a lawyer.
3) When in doubt – keep murmuring, “it’s just a phase, it’s just a phase.” This works best when curled up in the fetal position at the back of the room. Rocking is optional. This is, after all, the go-to tactic in motherhood that never fails.
4) Bring snacks, a warm blanket, and a favourite toy… these things are for you.
5) Realize that nursery is one step of many, and that you have a lifetime of “I hate yous” and “I love him… I’m gonna marry him anyway” and “I want to study interpretive dance and acting” to look forward to. Enjoy having the ability to scoop her off the floor and hand her a cookie to distract her while you can. Those years are numbered.
6) Realize that everything in motherhood is just a phase and that, one day, she will have her own kids and criticize you for not knowing what you’re talking about. Be sure to have hard copy proof of things you have done for her, including explosive poopy diaper changes.
7) Think of it as boot camp…mostly for you. And for your heart. It will hurt but it will make you stronger. Apparently. Also, I still don’t see what’s so bad in being a softie who sobs whenever a Johnson&Johnson’s baby shampoo commercial comes on. The music gets me every time.
8) Remind yourself of the bigger picture. And this is another useful tip to carry with you throughout parenthood. Having issues potty training? I don’t know of any child who goes to university in diapers. Two-year-old tantrums? There are anger management classes for adults to cope with that. Don’t you feel better? It just sucks right now. Not forever.
9) Have that one logical friend (probably from Eastern Europe) or older relative on speed dial. She will slap the tears off your face and remind you that you are lucky to be able to afford nursery and make fun of your unattractive, ugly-crying face.
There are a few of these absolute truths in motherhood. They will shed light on the seemingly unbearable phase you are stuck in. Next week? Toddler tantrums and the absolute truth that “this too shall pass” with a little prayer, patience and a few shots of vodka. Ummm, possibly? But also not?