An open letter to my daughter's creche – and all the people who cared for her
I always knew that I would be a working mum.
This is for a variety of reasons, really. One, I come from a country where 90-something percent of mums return to work after maternity leave; which, in fairness is a generous full year. Another reason being, of course, that I genuinely LOVE what I do, and could not imagine giving up my job completely. That would be giving up a lot of what makes me, well, me.
A third reason is that it is important for me to show my children that I contribute too. That my job and my career matters too. That my daughter getting an education and finding a job she loves is important, and that having that doesn't mean she can't have a family and be a great mum someday too.
And so although I opted to stay at home with both my children until they turned two (by a mixture of freelancing a little and cutting back a lot), I knew that they would be going into creche eventually. Which never seemed like a big deal to me, in fact, it made sense on every level, plus every single one of my mum friends back home had their children in creche too, so it was never something I agonised over.
Until, of course, the day came and my little girl was ready for her first day in the creche down the road from us. And I cried all the way home after dropping her in. And returned before no more than two hours had passed, terrified she had cried or missed me or hurt herself or felt alone.
Only to find her engrossed in a book, in the lap of who was to become her second mama for the next 2,5 years, and not even remotely interested in going home just yet.
And that day turned out to be every day. For both my children. And for that, I am so eternally grateful.
These amazing people, whose job it is to care for my children when I am not there, they have not only made it possible for me to go back to work, they have also made doing so feel that much easier on my heart.
Because the staff in these creches have not only cared for my children, they have gone beyond the call of duty and also loved them. Loved them in a way that was so sweet and good and heartfelt that I know it has enriched their childhood. They have greeted them with a smile and a hug on early mornings, and have, by doing so, made every morning, no matter how rushed before we got into creche, feel like a good one.
So thank you.
You have been patient beyond what I sometimes can manage, and tackled every tantrum and food aversion and toy fight. You have picked skin of apple pieces and un-mashed potato (how is that even possible?!) and plastered both scraped knees and invisible boo-boos.
You have sung songs and finger painted and taught my children stuff that we now talk about long after we get home in the evening after pick-up. You have wiped runny noses and changed a thousands nappies and stacked endless blocks and taken time out to just cuddle – if that is what the children needed that day.
You have text in the evenings on days where the children for any reason have been sad or upset, be it a tiff with another child or a bump on the head, just to make sure they are OK. You have wiped tears and cleaned up vomit and held them tight until I could manage to race home from work to get them if they got sick. You have tied a million shoe-laces and taught them about friendship and played fashion shows four thousand times and you seem to always have room on your lap for one more.
You remember which jumper that is the itchy one and teach them songs about how to wash their hands and never forget to tell us how good they were today.
You have become part of our family without being in our family. You will forever be in my children's memories of their childhood, and I know their childhood has been richer because of you.
You are amazing.
I think when so many stories that make the media about childcare are of the negative kind, it is so important to show the reality that we – and most families – see every day. Of people who work tirelessly every day to make our children's' day the best that it can be. Of people who create safe and fun and happy environments. Of hugs and art projects and learning and laughter. Of cared for kids. And of peace of mind for mums and dads. An honour.