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LEIGH CAMPBELL: My best days are the ones my son is in daycare.

My husband and I tried for three years before I finally had my son.

He was the most wanted, most longed for, most adored baby ever born. I love him in a way I never knew existed, yet my favourite days are when he’s in daycare.

But you’re not allowed to say that.

We spent tens of thousands of dollars on IVF, all while I daydreamed of pushing a pram and snuggling my baby in the newborn bubble, yet I really didn't enjoy being on maternity leave.

But you’re not allowed to say that.

I’ve watched my tiny baby blossom into a toddler and now a boy, running and jumping and singing and dancing. He loves nothing more than playing cars and trucks with his mummy, yet I hate playing. 

But you’re not allowed to say that.

Because when you become a parent to a baby you tried very hard to have, you feel an immense pressure to be so grateful for the opportunity. To outwardly admit that some parts are boring, tedious and relentless means you’re doing it wrong. You’re not trying hard enough to love it. 

I focused so hard on the person I was making that I didn't think about the person I’d become. And the person I’d lose. 

When my son was seven weeks old I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, but also Adjustment Disorder - a very real occurrence defined as ‘an emotional or behavioural reaction to a stressful event or change in a person's life. The reaction is considered an unhealthy or excessive response to the event or change within three months of it happening.’

I felt guilty for feeling the way I did. For missing my old life, in which I got a huge sense of accomplishment from my career. I missed dressing up and seeing people, but as a result I didn't want to get dressed and see people.

I adored my son but didn't enjoy being a mum. I worried I would never be able to be spontaneous ever again. I didn't think I was cut out for the gig.  

But you’re not allowed to say that.

Now, over two years on, my son goes to preschool four days a week. And I know you’re not allowed to say it, but my best days are the ones he is in daycare.

We spend those mornings together. We watch Dora and sing songs and eat our breakfast. 

He then goes to ‘school’ and I get to reclaim a bit of myself. To tidy the physical clutter around the house that takes up so much mental clutter in my brain. To go to work and use that brain on projects that fulfil desires in me I’m not supposed to admit are still important. To visit an old friend - the non-mum version of me. 

I pick him up in the afternoon, giddy with the thought of his little run and jump into my arms. 

We drive home while he fills me in on this day in toddler-ese. Sure, there's inevitably a meltdown or two over dinner or bath, but it’s manageable because I filled up my cup earlier that day.

And so I’m going to say it. 

I hate going to the park. 

I don't like playing trucks. 

I don’t like playing in general. 

I’m exhausted by planning dinner every night (that he probably won't eat). 

I hate having to constantly think of stimulating activities. 

I don't want to plan a costume for Book Week. 

I despise the never-ending mountains of washing and nappy-buying and banana hoarding. 

I miss so many parts of the old me. 

I look forward to the days my child is in daycare the most. 

I love my son with an intensity that scares me, and admitting the above does not take that away. So I’m allowing myself to say it.

And you can say it, too.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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