My daughter is the shining light in my life. She is my best friend, my greatest achievement, the love of my life.
She’s also nearly one, which means that her favourite hobbies include pulling everything off the shelves, speed crawling to splash in the dog’s water bowl, and being overtired but refusing to nap for more than 30 minutes.
She’s a handful, a beautiful, inquisitive, handful.
My daughter was born right between COVID-19 peaks, in January 2021.
She’s spent a little more than half her life in lockdown, and the rest under heavy restrictions.
Where most babies born in the years before her were able to divide their time between being at home, going to GymbaROO and baby swimming lessons, or going for coffee and shopping with other mums and their babies, my daughter and I have spent the better part of the past year by ourselves, having to come up with creative ways to be entertained at home.
When you’re constantly being confronted with friendly reminders of what a baby’s day should look like (no screen time! A variety of people, places, sounds and smells! A mixture of activities to ensure they don’t get bored! Fresh air and exercise!) and your reality is to get by with what you’ve got inside the walls of your home (which in my case yes, does include a TV) that triggers some pretty serious mum guilt from the get go.
During the most recent lockdown (August 2021), I made the hard but right for me decision to return to work a few months early, having secured a place for my baby in our chosen day care.
This decision did not come easily, my mind raced with questions and what ifs. Am I doing the right thing? Am I just asking for her to catch COVID? What if she needs me and I’m not there? How will this impact our breastfeeding journey? Am I being selfish by returning to work when I should be with her?
I agonised over the decision, but in the end I had to come to terms with the fact that it was time.
I could not handle the unknown, the likely possibility of many more months at home 24/7 with a baby whose needs I felt I wasn’t meeting.