Tom's big day
As I peered at my tiny baby boy in his incubator, it never would have occurred to me that nearly four years later I would be in perfect agonies over sending him to something that he would enjoy. After much worrying, stressing and praying, I decided to let Tom go to a playgroup for one morning a week. For the uninitiated, the difference between a toddler group and a playgroup is me. In short, the mothers stay at toddler group, but the children are in the care of qualified staff at a play group. The other main difference is that I enjoy going to toddler group, but I HATE leaving my children in the care of others when I am a stay at home mum and don't think it necessary. However, older and wiser heads than mine have assured me that most children love playgroup, that it is important socialisation and that it is good preparation for school. Doesn't mean I have to like it though!
Right up until the day before, I wasn't going to send him, but at the last minute I worried that I was just being selfish and rang up the group to say he'd be going. It was a hard thing to do because it goes against all my natural instincts. I told Tom about playgroup and explained to Lily that Tom would be going, but she was too little and would be coming home with mummy. On Tuesday morning, the three of us set off up the lane for Tom's big day. It quickly became apparent that Lily hadn't fully grasped the situation. Every single time anyone walked past us in the lane, she announced "Hewo, I going to playgroup!".
Walking up the lane to playgroup
We arrived at the playgroup and both Podlings immediately ran off to enjoy the play equipment. I went into the kitchen to fill in some forms and Lily popped her head in a couple of times to check on me. Tom was far to busy to worry about where I was, which was a great relief at least! When I'd filled in the forms and had a chance to watch Tom for a while and make sure he was happy, I said goodbye to him and went to get Lily. Her response:
I explained to her that mummy had to go home and couldn't stay at playgroup and that she was coming with me. However, her take on the situation appeared to be that there was an awful lot of fun to be had at this place and she didn't see why Tom got to be in on it and not her. She's always had trouble accepting the fact that she isn't the same age as Tom. To cut a long story short (well, slightly shorter anyway), I made sure she fully understood I was leaving, but would be back later and left empty handed. She waved me off with a cheerful "Bye Mummy!". Lily, if you are reading this in the future, just so you know, I REALLY didn't want to leave you. You're only two for goodness sake!
I was stunned! I had been in perfect agonies over sending Tom, but could just about see the argument for doing so. To come home with neither of them, especially when I'd been looking forward to some mother/daughter time with Lily, was a shock. I don't mind telling you that I nearly cried when I walked into the house...it was just so empty without them! I don't understand this 'time to yourself' everyone says is so great when your children are at playgroup/school. I HATED not having my Podlings home with me. My one consolation was that at least they were together. Whilst I think it important that the Podlings make friends with other children, I always want them, first and foremost, to be friends with each other. They are very close and I took comfort in knowing they were together.
I left far too soon to go and pick them up and arrived ten minutes early. I noticed I wasn't the first one there either. All us anxious mums commiserated with each other, whilst our children, clearly having a great time and oblivious to the anguish they were causing their mothers, played inside. When the time came for them to leave, Lily was happy to see me and ready to come home for some lunch. Tom, on the other hand, didn't want to leave! I had to pick him up and physically remove him from the premises!
Lily clearly had a great time and chatted quite happily about what she'd been up to on the way home. I think Tom had a good time, but getting him to talk about it was like getting blood out of a stone! I was a little concerned that he seemed more clingy than usual coming home, so I'll see how he is in the next couple of sessions before I'm completely convinced that he's happy there. He wants to go again though, so he must have enjoyed it.
This post ended up rather longer than I intended, but I guess this has been quite a Big Thing for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm really happy the Podlings like playgroup...I just wish I could be happy about them going. I know it is my job as a mother to raise them to be independent and that one day they will have to leave my side and make their own way in the world. Just, in the words of a certain precocious two year old "not yet!".