Uncomfortable week of parenting.
It started with the return to work of my partner. Twelve months on maternity leave is not a period of time to be sniffed at. Felt like the blink of an eye. This first year has been so long and so short. And I am not even her.
Realising what a big thing it was, I thought I should remove the burden of going back to work AND leaving Woodrow at the childminder. Seemed like a lot to do on the same day for someone that. Plus, I would definitely be OK about leaving him with the childminder. Why wouldn’t that be hard?
Why would marking the end of a significant stage in his life be hard? Why would acknowledging a new stage in his life, a more independent stage be difficult? Certainly when I have been back to work a long time and, realistically, there would be no difference to me. It would be fine.
It’s about a 25-minute walk from our house to the childminders. I think I cried for about 18 minutes of it. Proper crying. I thought about going sitting in a park with him, hiding from reality. I am 36. I am supposed to be a responsible adult. I was seriously considering going hiding in a park on a freezing morning so I could stop crying at handing my son to a professional childminder, and very nice person.
I am pleased to say Woodrow wasn’t traumatised by the whole thing. Though the handing over wasn’t something on which I lingered. Having managed to stop sobbing for five minutes, the five minutes of the walk that isn’t down a busy road, I wasn’t going to risk it. I also thought I might not resist the urge to run off with him. I knew the smalltalk chit-chatter could happen later when I picked him up. And it did and everything was fine.
As much as I want him to grow up and I am each day excited by the prospect of having a conversation with him, kicking a football, winding his mother up etc…as much as I want all this, I also want my little baby boy to stay at home and just hang around with me and his mum. Is this too much to ask?
The week would get easier as we went from this experience to the experience of his first vomits since he’s been eating properly. We have clearly done OK because this has been some four or five months now. Tuesday night, however, was scene to some serious vomit.
I knew there was something wrong when my partner shouted for me in a way suggesting she was worried and needed help. I am the one who shouts things in a worried voice because they need help: we haven’t got the crisps I want, why not?; can you tell me what colour these clothes are please, do they match? Do you think this is cancer? Etc
His tea, in a slightly chewed remix, was coming out of his small mouth. And going all over his cot and my partner. Reasonably we shouted and panicked. Later he would be sick again and I would end up squatting in the bath with him lying facing down on my arm to ensure he didn’t choke. Later still I would remember there is something else that was stopping him choking anyway, the human throat.
He was clearly shocked at this new thing his body did. But he soon slept and was bouncing about in the morning.
The repercussions followed the day after when I was asked to come from work if I could as now my partner was being sick and felt terrible. Then later that night I was sick and feeling terrible. On Friday morning we were both feeling terrible and lacking in energy.
My partner’s first week back at work ended with her phoning in ill. And phoning in for me – as well as this bug I’ve also got a cold which had now robbed my voice in my weakened state. I was able to make occasional sounds but I was not able to predict when they happened and it was unlikely that they were all part of the same word.
It seems like quite a shitty few days looking back at it. I certainly did not enjoy heaving the contents of my stomach into our lavatory. Or crying in the street. Or cleaning vomit off the floor of Woody’s bedroom. But in between all these things, Woody would laugh and smile or take a few steps or briefly hug me, before remembering he doesn’t hug me, and it made it seem fine.