Saying Goodbye To Nursery

As the end of August draws closer we are preparing to say goodbye to the nursery that Jack has attended since he was a baby. We already had tears (mostly mine) when he left preschool at the start of the summer holidays but knowing that the friends he made there will continue onto school with him (and that he'll still be able to wave to his teachers over the fence) made that feel a lot less final. Saying goodbye to the private nursery is another matter.

I remember his first day there so clearly. He was just nine months old. Still having two naps a day, still in a strict routine with his bottle feeds, still teething. Still a baby. Me going back to work was never in question and up until that point I had been pretty OK with it. But on that first morning when I  handed him over and walked away, everything about it felt wrong. I remember pulling over in Aldi car park on the way to work, unable to hold back the tears and ringing my mum for reassurance...was I was doing the right thing?

Over the next few years there were many times when that question reared it's ugly head again. The time when he had two bad falls at nursery in the same week and came home looking like he'd been wrestling with a rottweiler. The time another child bit him. The horrific sickness bugs he brought home and infected us all with (the most recent of which was only a few weeks ago!) The times he'd cling to me and cry and I'd have to walk out with 'DON'T GO! DON'T GO!' ringing in my ears.

It wasn't always easy but now I can look back at that question and I think yes, actually I think I did do the right thing. The right thing for us at least. I reduced my hours after having Jack but I still kept my foot in the door at work. Now that school is just around the corner, the opportunity to pick up more hours has come about and that's a positive thing for us all.

More importantly it was right for him. I drop him off now and there are no tears. No clinging. No need for hugs with his key person. His friends rush to greet him in a flurry of hugs and cries of 'JACK! JACK!' and he skips off without a backwards glace. He has learnt to be independent and sociable in equal measure. He listens and cooperates and willingly eats meals that he'd never touch at home because, quote - "I only eat nursery shepherds pie, yours is yucky." His head is full of stories and games - space ships made from boxes, treasure hunts, tadpoles and secrets that his friends have told him. He has flourished. Maybe that would have happened without nursery, who knows. But given that (at that time at least) I had few friends with babies or young children and was never a fan of a toddler group, I do think that nursery gave him the opportunity to socialise and learn in ways that he might not have had otherwise.

With school imminent, a lot of my focus is on the future. The next chapter. But before we close this one I need to say thank you to the nursery for taking care of my baby in my absence. You didn't just do the basic things like feeding him and changing him and picking him up from a fall but you helped shape him into the bright and happy little boy he is today. Neither of us will forget that.

Transition day at nursery vs. transition day at school...*sniff* 

Baby Showers: Commercial Crap or Important Occasion?

When I was pregnant I specifically forbade my friends from throwing me a baby shower. In my eyes, the concept was commercialised, cliche, American rubbish and I could think of nothing worse than sitting around with all eyes on my ever expanding belly while awkwardly accepting gifts that I didn't feel I deserved.

In their typical fashion, they completely ignored my wishes and threw me one anyway. Afternoon tea at a fancy golf club no less (I would have preferred Pizza Hut) and in the end it turned out to be a very pleasant afternoon - apart from the horrific moment when I opened a 'gift' from my 'friend' Ben in front of my Nan which turned out to be a packet of extra safe condoms to prevent any further 'unexpected surprises'. Cheers for that. But still, my perception of baby showers remained unchanged. I just wasn't really a fan.

This weekend I attended the baby shower of one of my oldest and bestest friends. At 33 weeks pregnant she is now just 6/7 weeks off joining the (mother)hood. Her baby shower was a much more laid back affair - a little garden party at her parents' house. And honestly? It was a beautiful afternoon.

When I had my baby shower I couldn't understand the need for it. At that time my circle of friends were still tight. We lived nearby and saw each other regularly so why did I need a designated, Cath Kidson themed event to celebrate my pregnancy? But now, over four years on, our lives have all moved on. Work, kids, relationships and distance all mean that we don't get together as much as we'd like to - such is life. At some point during Saturday afternoon it occurred to me that this might be the last time I see my friend before she becomes a mum. It's almost certainly the last time we'll all be together before then. It was quite emotional.

And while the bunting and the games and the Pimms in mini milk bottles were all lovely, I think the occasion represented more than that. It was a last chance for us all to be together, along with the yummy-mummy-to-be's family, before her life changes immeasurably. An opportunity to mark the closing of this chapter of her life and celebrate the one that is about to start. The biggest chapter so far!

I'm still not completely sold on baby showers and I don't think I'd ever be able to eat a cake that was designed to look like a vagina. But having had such a brilliant time at my friend's, I think I've become at least a little less Scroogey about them.

What are your thoughts on baby showers? Commercial crap or an important occasion?