I see a lot of talk about ‘mum guilt’ for working mums and as the ‘other’ mum I don’t think that feels the same for me. I can rationalise the need for Ottilie to go to nursery, the childminder or nanny’s with an attitude of we do what we do to ‘get by’. We both work because we want to be able to take Ottilie on holiday, days out and for all those other luxuries I wasn’t afforded growing up. And I know many aren’t afforded now.
But last night I felt that guilt a little bit – O spent a full week with both mummy and mama whilst she has having her operation and a further two weeks with just mummy. Like the olden days of maternity leave. Then when we were both back at work – ‘needs must’ meant we carted O off to nursery, childminder and nanny’s for six of the seven days. It was necessary, unavoidable and not something we had done before. I didn’t give this a second thought until last night.
Nursery drop off this week have been tough, Ottilie hasn’t wanted to go in. Hasn’t wanted to let go of Amy, has asked for ‘boobie two’ as a stalling technique.
She’s carried her family book (photo book of family) round, showed the nursery girls the photos all day, pulled it away from the other kids and sometimes held it close to her chest and welled up.
Last night she woke a couple of hours after bedtime and was inconsolable. Amy went in, rocked her and after a while I went in to see if they needed anyone to mop a brow or pretend to do a poo as a distraction. But they were just sitting, so we all sat together.
Amy offered up ‘boobie two’ so we settled onto O’s floor bed. With O the filling in the two Mum sandwich. She fed and I stroked her back. I tried to make my escape but she would periodically pull off and ask for ‘mama’. So we all just laid together, with Ottilie rolling to me just to have her hair stroked occasionally before snuffling back into ‘boobie two’.
After a bit, we asked if mama could go back to bed and Ottilie said ‘nun night’ so I crept back to our room. And Ottilie slept with Amy, reaching out throughout the night just to make sure she was still there.
I know we are fortunate that Amy has flexible working, and for some parents six days a week or long hours in childcare is their everyday, it isn’t ours and we are going to do our best to avoid doing it again. If that means more night or overnight shifts, or split days off then that is what we will do.
Being two is tough and sometimes I think a family cuddle is just what you need.