I have once again started preparing my two and a half year old son for time without Mummy, Daddy or Grandma and Grandpa. Recently he moved from a class of small, mostly mute, doe-eyed one to two year olds into the more mature and progressive in potty training three year old nursery class where words are spoken in broken sentences and teaching staff are less about cuddles and more about beginning the development of toddler maturity that will see a once crying infant leave the nursery doors as a young child ready to make its way through the education system. The move has not been a good one and in fact, I am again faced with the traumatising dramatics that is the nursery school 'drop off'. We battled this at the start of the nursery initiation for a prolonged period and here we are again. The look of utter distress when he realises that I am leaving him with these people, again! The sudden tightening of his small hand in mine and the scream that seems to come from the depths of his very being. Separation anxiety has once again reared its ugly head.
As soon as I strap my two babes into their car seats and begin the journey to school, I deliver a commentary that mostly consists of primary and nursery school positives. Focusing on the latter, I talk of the scrumptious breakfast cereals (cornflakes and weetabix) the other two to three year olds who are desperately waiting to hold his hand and do painting, colouring and reading and the teachers who simply cannot wait to help him with a multitude of fun-filled activities. This carefully delivered verbal massage is my way of preparing the youngest for his new nursery class – same nursery, but new class. The move up a year has revived his feelings of fear and abandonment, it is noticeable as soon we step up to the nursery front door.
My first son seemed to ease into the these transitions with such carefree nonchalance, that I recall wondering at the time if he had any sort of feelings for me at all. Just my luck to have two children on the opposite ends of the attachment spectrum.
My prep work fails miserably every time and nevertheless, I walk away from the nursery feeling a little put out, but to be honest, not greatly distressed. Do I shed a tear as I head off? I don't think so. My boy is in safe hands, he gets to interact with other children of his own age and more importantly, I get to be a person in my own right. I work three days a week and I am determined to take these recent episodes of obvious stress with a pinch of salt. The fact is and remains that even with the tears and sadness I must remain focused on the prize that is my own mental, spiritual and financial emotional stability and this comes with having the best of both - a career and two wonderful children to nurture and develop. Both of my roles are part-time, mother and employee, and at times child and career must pay the price for neither receive my full and undivided attention. There are challenges for parents and guardians across the spectrum of care arrangements. You can never really ‘win’ but I do know that my current set up is the healthiest option for me. My little one may scream at the drop off, but our time together is precious and purposeful, need I say more.