My darling Maddie,
I’ve had the absolute privilege of spending almost every day with you for the past 18 months.
I’ll be honest, staying at home with you has been a bit like being on a continual rollercoaster. Sometimes it is the best thing in the world. I have been there for all your firsts. I was the one who witnessed your first steps, who heard your first words, who watched you eagerly shovel fistfuls of avocado into your mouth for the first time. We’ve had the most wonderful adventures together – spending long summers at home in the UK, travelling around Italy, seeing Japan.
Because I’ve stayed at home with you, I feel that your Dad and I are stronger than ever. We have learnt to work together as a team, to communicate more openly about all sorts of things. Over the past year and a half, my focus has been completely and utterly and wholly on you and your Dad. How lucky I am to have had this time to dedicate to building our family?
But on other days, staying at home with you is hard. Those early days seem like such a blur now: the hours and hours spent worrying about you, wondering if you were eating enough or sleeping enough, if you were still breathing in your cot at night. The struggle with breastfeeding, the time put into making new friends (for both you and me) who I could journey through parenthood with. The occasion that you did the world’s nosiest, most explosive poo during a baby massage class. The hours spent lugging you, your car seat, a bag full of nappies and snacks into and out of taxis to get to baby sensory classes on time, praying all the while that you wouldn’t have an almighty sh*tfit (a personal highlight being the moment when you were crying so much a taxi driver asked me if you were sick, and if we should go to hospital instead of dropping us at Green Planet). The days spent looking at the clock, counting down the minutes until Daddy got home and normal adult conversation could resume. The nap times spent praying that you’d keep sleeping so I could meet a freelance deadline.
However hard it’s been, before now I didn’t feel like I was ready to let my days with you go. That you weren’t ready to let me go. You have been my world, and you still are. You are a mummy’s girl through and through. But over the last couple of months I’ve felt desperate to get some independence back, to use my brain again in the way that I used to before you were born. To have some time during the day to have an adult conversation that wasn’t with your Dad. To get stuck into projects again, and maybe even have a moment to enjoy a warm cup of tea.
What’s more, I can sense that you’re ready. You can be shy in social situations sometimes, but once you warm up you’re such a funny little thing. When I first took you to nursery a few weeks ago you cried and cried, and I questioned my decisions and felt awful. These days you still cry when I leave you but then you immediately settle once you realise there’s more exciting stuff going on. I’ve been thankful that I’ve had some time to get you used to your new surroundings , to be there to drop you off at nursery and pick you up at midday to take you home for a nap. And the benefits of being with other people is already shining through: you’re building relationships with other adults, you’re coming out of your shell with other children, you’re daring to go more than 5ft away from me when we’re out and about at soft play.
We’re so lucky that my role is part-time to begin with, so that we both have time to adjust to the time we’ll spend without each other. Please know that I’ll never, ever stop worrying about you, my darling girl – but deep down I know we’ll both be just fine with this new chapter, however shaky I might feel now. There will be wobbly days ahead, but I hope I make you proud. I know already that you’ll make me proud.
Thank you for the most wonderful 18 months.