I remember the guilt like it was yesterday.
It wasn’t yesterday. It was every day, 12 years ago.
My one-year-old was in family daycare, and she had to be picked up before 6pm. A very reasonable deadline that on some days, when the world didn’t go according to plan, was almost impossible to meet.
It involved leaving the office on time, no matter whatever small fire had sparked up in whatever corner. Running for the bus from the city to the suburbs. Standing sandwiched between all humanity, willing a smooth passage across town. Any unscheduled pause - a customer who had the wrong pass, an accident, roadworks, would cause anxiety to peak and crash in waves. Then there was a sprint to the car, parked wherever either myself or my partner had found a spot back at the other end of the day. Screeching up to the door of daycare and falling through it in a cloud of apologies, being handed a grumbly infant, tired and cranky from her busy-fun-busy day. And then sinking into the front seat of the car as she squealed and kicked the back of the seat and thinking… “Okay, what’s for dinner?”
But also it was yesterday, when I was travelling interstate for work and not home on the couch with my son, who'd had a rough day.
And it was eight years ago. In the first days of school, when pick-up is an hour earlier than usual, to ease the kids into kindergarten.
And it was four years ago, in the seemingly never-ending school holidays, when the conundrum of what to do with my non-sporty son who doesn’t love unstructured care grew louder every day.