I have worked since I left school. That’s 17 years. I only stopped working outside the home when I was on maternity leave, 3 times. When my first was born, I put him in a crèche, at 5 months old when I went back to work. I had to earn money to contribute to the mortgage, simple as that. I longed to be at home with him but if I wanted to be able to keep a roof over his head, I had to work.
When I had my daughter, it made more sense to use a childminder. We couldn’t afford to have them both in a crèche full time. The childminder was great at the time but lived far away from the schools. When my son started school, I changed to a local childminder. I was also pregnant with my third child. That childminder ended up leaving me with a day’s notice. It was horrendous. I had to take the day off work to try desperately to find somewhere to put them and someone to pick my son up from school. Yes, I was desperate and it was all last minute but your employer will not care if you cannot find someone to mind your children. A day, 2 at most but after that, you better be in work! I put them into the crèche that my daughter was in playschool in and organised another mother, who I barely knew to pick up my son from school and another to drop him in the morning!
After I had my third child, I found another minder. She was great with all 3 but she became pregnant on her own and not in a position to mind my 3 on top of her brand new baby. So then I decided to let the kids stay in my mothers (near work), over the Summer and put them into a crèche/after school in September. The crèche organised a bus in the mornings and afternoons so it was all under the one roof and seemed to be the best answer.
The first few days were fine. I think my now 17 month old was in shock and not really aware of the fact that I was leaving her with a bunch of strangers. I wished I could have had a bit more time to settle her in. But it just didn’t work out that way. Today, I dropped them to the crèche. While my older 2 ran in happily, my little baby girl was cautious. I put her down in front of a Peppa Pig toy, which she loves dearly. I spoke with one of the employees and hugged my children good bye. As soon as I made my way to the door, she cried, she cried so much. The employee of the crèche picked her up and dealt with some other people arriving as well. My little baby girl continued to scream, reaching out for me.
I didn’t look back, I had to go to work. I am crying now as I type this because it’s only now I am dwelling on it and it hurts so much. I wanted desperately to run back in there and scoop her up into my arms to tell her that everything will be ok, Mammy’s here. But Mammy is not there. Mammy has to work, has to earn money and has to abandon her. I worry that she thinks I’ve left her forever and if she thinks that I don’t love her. I wish I could work less. Right now I work 4 days a week but I am about to get a new job and work 5 days, closer to home. I am thinking of the long term here.
She is going to be in that crèche 5 days a week, all year round. I wonder if I am doing the right thing. Am I seriously damaging her by leaving her at this age? I think that if she was younger, it would be easier but this is the toughest thing I’ve ever done. Anything I speak with other people they have family members that mind their children or childminders or they only work part time. I don’t have choices here. Childminders are great, and maybe I will get one again in the future. Right now, this is what I have and right now I feel like my baby thinks I don’t love her. I’m sure it will get easier. I know it will. But it’s taking everything I have not to break and quit my job. Everything.