So far, this has been an emotional week. It hasn't helped that I'm clouded by premenstrual tension. As I write, another storm hovers menacingly in a whirlpool of murky yellow grey over the rooftop of our flat. The cloud is circling like the base of a UFO from a science fiction movie. It's reminiscent of the mother ship in the Spielberg classic, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind ...
Anyway, the main reason I'm feeling down is because Little A finishes her time with her childminder, L, tomorrow. She was due to end the beginning of August. But a few days ago L received some very upsetting news and she's leaving the country with her immediate family this Saturday. They'll be gone for three weeks. So it has all come to an abrupt end.
This sudden turn of events has made me reflect upon the importance of L in our lives; the positive and nurturing impact she's had on both Little A and I.
When we set out on our quest to find a suitable childminder, L was the first person we interviewed. Little A was only two months old and spent most of her time watching the world from the encasing comfort of a sling bound either to me or Younger Dad. Even though we met a handful of other very competent caregivers, I knew in my bones that L was the right childminder from that initial meeting. She was warm, sturdy, down to earth and possessed an easy friendliness I felt immediately comfortable with, and trusted. It also helped that L had superb references, and that the select mothers I spoke to held her in high regard. So the decision was made.
Little A began her settling in period when she was ten months old. This lasted a month; an hour here and a couple of hours there, until I felt assured that Little A was in safe hands. She began her first full day a couple of weeks shy of her first birthday. From there on L looked after her one day a week.
She's been going to L's for just over a year and a half now. In all that time Little A hasn't fussed when I've relinquished her in the morning. At the end of the day I'm always greeted by a jubilant little girl with a bagful of artwork. L has given Little A constant care and attention, consistency and love, and bowl upon bowl of Cheerios. Her flat is a treasure trove of toddler fun; the living room lined with boxes of stikkle bricks, books, dolls, teddies, make believe costumes, and there's a tent for extra special hide-away mischief. Every week L and Little A frequented playgroups, parks and duck ponds, and Little A's imagination stretched with music, painting, glue and pipe cleaners.
For this I am very grateful because sometimes I fall down in my mothering. I'm not always the responsive or patient parent I'd like to be. In many ways L has been like a special aunt; flexible and on hand in times of personal difficulty and illness, and there have been plenty of last minute requests for help.
And for me, that one day a week, that free space on the calendar has gifted a moment to breathe. Those eight child free hours have granted a space to recover, a space to write, opportunity to see clients, time to read, time to swim, and to reconnect with friends over lunch and a glass of wine. Most of all its helped to claw back my sanity and a clearer sense of myself after nearly two years hidden under the canopy of post natal illness.
And for that I am so thankful.
I'm going to feel very sad when Little A and I wave our last goodbyes. I keep reminding Little A that tomorrow is her last day with L. But she will remain in her happy world as she doesn't really understand. I however, will most definitely shed a tear.
Next week, Little A starts another settling in period at a local nursery. She was going to start in September but we moved the date forwards owing to the latest developments with L. For now, she's going to go two mornings a week, until, when she's three, the blessed fifteen hours of Government funded childcare becomes available. I'm nervous about the change. But I keep reminding myself that Little A's time with L, her nine year old daughter, and the other toddlers L cared for, has buoyed her with the social confidence for her new adventure.
In the meantime I will write L a glowing reference.
Although its Thursday, I'm hooking up with a new linky, Wednesday Witter hosted by Hello Wall.