A Fresh Start.

As you are probably aware, DS has had a tough time at nursery in the past couple of months. He struggled to settle in and there were ongoing issues with the lack of food they were giving him. The communication was poor and I was left not knowing what my baby boy was getting up to for large chunks of the day. Yes he survived the day each time, but considering the amount we pay for childcare, we should receive a little more than the bare essentials; even then he would regularly come home crying for water.

But enough with the bitching, I am happy to section that part of DS’ life away to a dark corner and move forward. After an erratic week of finishing one nursery and having settling-in sessions at another, DS been exceedingly good at his new nursery today. I was doubtful at first, as he would kick and scream at the drop offs for settling-in sessions. But today he walked in calmly and did not shed a tear. My boy did me proud.

I have high hopes for this nursery, they are very confident in the way they conduct themselves and how they communicate with parents. I was a little annoyed that they did not apply Sudo cream because I had not signed a form (even though I gave them verbal authorisation), but I guess it is good to be strict with rules. I had a little spy on DS on the nursery cam and he seemed pretty happy running about with the other children. They only allow fifteen minutes a day per parent to view, which is good as we all need that little bit of reassurance, but we also need to get on with the reasons why they are there in the first place.

Here's what you could have won - What we gave to DS' first nursery when we left.

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Please, Sir, I STILL Want Some More.

Since my last nursery post on the 9th September, I am saddened to say nothing much has changed. DS is still coming home hungry despite my incessant complaints to the nursery. Wednesday 21st September sets a fine example of how his nursery fails to address DS’ needs.

Needless to say, my boy came home starving that day. DS has been eating two full Weetabixs since forever, yet somehow, he had only managed half of one on Wednesday. Following breakfast, he had a pathetic minimal snack which he obviously ate all of. He most probably did not reject lunch, but was neglected and left to fend for himself. I can only imagine the worst because there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. DS has always been a hungry boy, to the point that he tries to lick the bowl clean, failing that, he puts his face in the bowl instead.

This incident does not stand alone, as illustrated in my previous post, this is a regular occurrence. The food DS eats with me is not a one-off, I place him before myself and always ensure he has the best meals filled with nutritious goodness. Today he ate a whole bowl of porridge for breakfast, followed by three quarters of an apple and a cracker for his snack. For lunch he devoured a bowl of smoked haddock, spring greens, spinach, carrots and leek with cous cous. He is currently eating half a banana after he gobbled up whole croissant for a snack. For dinner he will share our roast beef with potatoes, carrots and whatever else I throw in the mix. It is incredible how little he eats at nursery in comparison to at home.

After much upset, DH wrote a response:

This is not new information to them; when he started nursery we made them very aware of our angst. DS started at twenty months old in an aged two to three room, with children who were capable of feeding themselves without aid, spoke clearly and were able to communicate their needs. DS can string a few words together and can demand things like a car and a ball. He would not demand food, water or a nappy change though – those things are not fun. He needs to be sat down and fed, given water accordingly and changed regularly without being asked. Adults often speak to children as though they should control themselves and have their own answers, however I believe children of all ages should be told, not asked; especially not rhetorically. I have witnessed one or two nursery workers who ask the children if they would like food and the conversation always goes along the lines of, “are you going to eat that?” .. “no” .. “fine I will take it away”. What kind of ‘looking after’ is that?

If it was a matter of survival then yes, I will hand it to them, they are doing a brilliant job. However, I am paying extortionate fees for my boy to be well looked after and I expect a certain level of standard. I do not scrimp and save, work my arse off all week, just to come home to an unhappy boy who has been neglected by people who are meant to be his carers. The staff are meant to bond with the children, engage them in learning activities, encourage them to read, and above all, energise them with nutritious foods. I do not see this happening, or at least, I am not hearing about it. Their 2010 Ofsted report states they should improve to ‘further develop the regular, two way flow of information with parents to maintain and support communication with parents and users of the service‘; a year on, a shabby school book they ordered especially for us because other parents receive feedback verbally does not constitute as a ‘regular, two way flow of information‘ I’m afraid.

Where’s Dee-Da Gone?

*I am not sure if I have mentioned in previous posts, but DS’ name for Daddy is Dee Da (obviously Daddy reversed!).

I am swarmed with mixed feelings when DS asks where either of us are – His cuteness makes me smile; I become very proud of my little boy and his ability to string three words together at 21 months, but then I become overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. When I call my mother from work and DS speaks on the phone, he repeatedly says ‘Mummy gone, Dee Da* gone‘ and it is incredibly heartbreaking. I wish he could understand, see the bigger picture, imagine how much better off we will be in a few years. But I know he only lives in the present and when something sad happens it is the end of the world for him.

A Mother’s Guilt.

In a world full of unpredictability, constraints and constant setbacks, decisions have to be made in order for progression. Our decision to both be in full-time employment has not come easy. Weighing up the pros and cons, the now seems almost insignificant amidst the wider picture.

Yet the majority of the time we must live in the present; residing in the past permits life to drift on by and living in the future is merely a daydream. I find it easier to deal with particular circumstances when I set these categories. Sometimes you lose perspective in whichever time frame you find yourself in and it helps to outline goals, reasons, justifications.

I paint the wider picture with images of a big house, fast cars, private schooling and exotic holidays. The prospect of a duel income and security seems more inviting than living on a budget and just getting by until DS goes to a state school. With the long shot in mind, I push aside my anxieties of DS being at nursery three days a week and not having any meals with him Monday to Thursday. Of course these are my fears, not his. He will be absolutely fine playing with the other kids and an endless mountain of toys.

I am playing full-time Mummy this month whilst I await my turn to go to work. DH has already been summoned to the daily grind, rushing in the morning to catch the 6:47AM train and not returning until 7:30PM. He sees DS briefly in the morning in between getting dressed and eating breakfast, and for five minutes in the evening just to say hello. Sometimes DS is so worn out from the day, he is already in bed by the time DH returns. That is when the sadness sets in and work becomes a forlorn attempt to escape. The tough work, long days and late nights hardly feels worth while when an overwhelming sense of the present hits you in the face.

It is easy for individuals without children to disregard this angst we feel, as something we can push aside or just get over. Missing your children is not the same as missing your other half; I dislike not seeing DH, but it is heart breaking knowing my baby is growing up in our absence. Maybe I am being overdramatic, as we will see him at weekends and I will be home on Fridays. It is also inevitable he will go to school full-time and spend the majority of each day without us anyway.

Whatever the reasoning, no matter how many times you justify it to yourself, it does not get easier. We become each others priorities and the weekends are golden. We owe this to the eighteen year old DS going to university and, god forbid, the thirty-nine and forty-one year old parents we will inevitably become.

Let me give the world to you.

Long drive home.

So the weeks have passed and I am now residing in the filthy town that is Gravesend. My days are spent in denial of this fact, concealing my devastation behind my desk with my Admissions hat on. It is only when I set out on my arduous journey home, crossing the Medway border on the M2 and the skies turn grey, does reality smack me in the face.

It has only recently occurred to me how much I took for granted, living in the city centre, working for a decent wage with no travel costs and a neat apartment minutes away. I would enjoy regular visits from DH and DS during working hours and finish my day at 4:30PM, to find my bouncing baby boy waiting for me at the door.

I no longer have these privileges living in Gravesend. I see DS for a maximum of two hours a day, in which the morning hour is spent rushing around trying to get ready for work. In the evening my boy greets me with red eyes, exhausted from having such a fun day with Daddy, and slums into his high chair eager for dinner before bed. I barely spend any time with my boys before it is bedtime and I am forced to wake for the next day.

I remember I came across this battle when I first committed to working full-time. Yes it got easier, because my son was across the road. Will it get easier again? Doubtful. I am becoming worn, reliant on caffeine and desperate for my son’s attention.

Wearing the trousers.

Suited and booted I ventured out to my first day at work yesterday. Filled with nausea/excitement I was catapulted into a grown-up’s world. Obviously being married and having a son does mean I have had a head start with this growing up business, but this was different. Somehow, going into work 9-5, stepping away from a life of education and earning big bucks (compared to minimum wage at a coffee shop anyway), has dramatically altered my lifestyle. Being a wife and a mother does not change how I live or my habits. I am having to adjust to a new environment, surrounded by normal working people, not family, or fellow students with their drunken tales.

I have already organised my desk, drawers and stacked up my collection of post-it notes. I was so excited to get my own desk; the novelty still has not worn off. I suppose it has only been two days.

Despite being eager to start something new, I find myself calling home on my breaks, using my hour lunch to see my boys; I practically run home after work. I miss them and have an overwhelming anxiety; how can the show go on without me?