Written by Deborah Ann Gajewski for her blog, Following Little Footsteps.
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It had been a difficult afternoon with teething; we had really been through it and I had resorted to cuddling him and rocking him in the chair in in his nursery. As I have done hundreds of times over the past year!
Sitting in the darkened room it suddenly dawned on me. It was like someone hitting me in the face with a sledgehammer…this is not something I will have to do for much longer! That wave of emotion was quite stifling. This is a prospect that I should be quite happy about. But as I was sitting there, cuddling my baby who had finally calmed down and was peacefully resting his little head on my shoulder and sucking away on his dummy, I felt an unprecedented wave of sadness so great, it felt like it was drowning me. Then I realised what it was. Heartbreak! My little baby won’t need me to do this for much longer and that was actually a heart-breaking thought.
You see, my little guy is going for a settling in day at nursery this week as I prepare to go back to work next month and the significance of this suddenly resonated with me like it hadn’t before. It wasn’t the fact that the little routine that we have gotten ourselves into over the past year is now going to completely change. It wasn’t (so much!) the trepidation of having to leave him, the most precious thing to me, in someone else’s care for a few hours. It wasn’t even the fact that my returning to work means that I will miss my new little best friend like crazy! It was the fact that this is yet another leap in him gaining independence from me. He’s growing up!
I know that this, essentially, is a good thing. It will help his development and social skills and provide him with more interesting things to do and new little friends to do them with. But it has suddenly dawned on me that he will never be quite this small or quite this dependent on me EVER again. He is changing every day; learning new things and doing things that make us cry out in amazement, groan with frustration or roar with laughter. He is literally becoming his own little person before our very eyes. And whilst this is the most amazing thing ever and makes me so proud, it is also such a bittersweet experience.
I know I am not the first and certainly won’t be the last Mummy to have to go through this; that the emotions I am experiencing are experienced by other Mummies all over the world, every single day. And I know that it will do both of us good to spend some time apart! But knowing all of this doesn’t make doing it any easier!
Yet when the morning comes to leave him at nursery, whether he starts to cry or is indifferent to it all, I will have the biggest smile on my face and the cheeriest voice. I will give him the biggest cuddle and sloppiest kiss and say “See you later little guy. You are going to have the best time!”
I will walk out the door with my head held high and with as much composure as I can muster. I won’t break until I am back in the car where I will probably (almost definitely!) have a little silent cry to myself. But I will pull myself together and instead of racing back inside to say I’ve changed my mind, I will drive off knowing that our little boy is going to be absolutely fine. After all, we have done such a good job of raising and nurturing him over the past eleven months and it will all have prepared him for this next big chapter.