First Day Fears and the Reality of Tears

So this month’s articles for me and MuMan come in two parts. As our girls start nursery, we wanted to share the journey with you both before and after their first day. Sometimes it’s easy to brush over how you felt after the event so we hope you will relate to our experience and [hopefully] remember how brave you were facing your own fears.

It’s 8pm on Sunday night, I’m making a little packed lunch for our girlies and feeling like it’s the start of a whole new era. I’ve obviously made them packed lunches before (though I’m pretty certain never the night before as despite my efforts I will never be that organised kind of Mum I aspire to!) but never have I made them a packed lunch that I can’t picture where it’s going to be eaten or know if somebody’s going to enforce they eat their sandwich before their yoghurt. Never have I sent them off on their own in to a place I have no experience of and don’t yet know the people there; the people I’m about the entrust our little girls to. I’m sure there’s a poem about how being a Mum is about watching your heart walking around outside of your body. Well that’s definitely how I’m feeling today and it all came flooding out a few hours ago!

We’ve been planning and talking about the girls going to nursery for some time now. As a stay-at-home Mum, it’s not something we had to make an early choice about so their nursery adventure is starting simply because of their age. And they’re ready for it. I know that. I can see that. And the rational head on my shoulders tells me that they’re going to love it, thrive off it and be absolutely fine…

Unfortunately, the all-too-familiar emotional side of me won the battle today and saw me streaming with tears at the thought of having to leave them in this unfamiliar place tomorrow morning. Over the past few weeks it feels like A & E have had a 6th sense about their pending new activity because they have been SUPER clingy, even with people we know they have clung to my legs and not wanted to leave my side. So my fear tonight is that this will be what we’re faced with in the morning. The nursery have already said we have to just say goodbye and leave. So simple it sounds, but how do you do that when the child you’re trying to leave is clinging to you with all their might??

That’s my fear. Firstly because there’s an element of me that doesn’t want the nursery staff to see our girls like that on their first day. I want them to know them for the happy, full of life and intrigue little girls they are, not the screaming crazy jumping beans they can be every now and again! Secondly, I’m concerned about my reaction. It’s rare that our girls completely lose it but when they do I can get embarrassed and incredibly frustrated at my own inability to calm them down quickly. Thirdly, to be brutally honest with myself, I’m worried they won’t react like that at all. What if they just stroll on in without a care for me? I know that sounds crazy as I really want tomorrow to be drama free but if there is no attachment then I’m sure that will almost make me as upset as if there is. That sounds completely crazy doesn’t it!

Thankfully, MuMan will be with me on both nursery days this week. A promise he made to me many moons ago. So he will help curb my crazy and keep me sane for the day tomorrow. He will also share in my predictable morning upset as well as the excitement that will come when pick up time is looming! I’m thankful to have him by my side but it makes me feel immense empathy for those of you who go these things alone. For you single parents, I am in awe of what you do and how you do it on your own. I would love to hear how you have coped with this particular challenge – if only so that I can send you a very deserved “well done”.

There is one saving grace in all of this though…twins. Having twins makes this half as emotionally challenging as I imagine it could be. When we send them off in to the unknown tomorrow, I feel immensely comforted that we send them together. They already have a friend, somebody they love and trust and somebody who will be a familiar comfort in our absence. I think that’s definitely one of the perks of having multiples! I’d probably still be crying in my wine now if we just had one precious daughter we were about to send off to fend for themselves!
Well let’s see what tomorrow brings?!…

And were off! Our first nursery run!

Well that was a rather unexpected day! When I wrote the first half of this article last night, it seems I was way too focused on the wrong thing. I was so focused on my fears and what could go wrong that I forgot to think about what could go right (I guess that’s a parenting trait eh? One to delve in to another time!) … and wow did it go right today!

So that brutally honest fear I talked about with them not being sad when we left… well that is exactly how it played out. They didn’t cry at all but I did! Hugging them goodbye I felt like a complete idiot that I was the one welling up and having to desperately put on a brave face so they didn’t see me in tears.
BUT far from their reaction (or lack thereof) making me sad, it filled me with utter pride! Just after we left, I managed to sneak a peak through the window to see our little girls being ushered in to a different room by their ‘teachers’ and just felt so proud of how they were taking it all in their stride. They had obviously really listened to everything we’d told them about what to expect from nursery and they trusted that we’d come back and that they were free to enjoy themselves.

And enjoy themselves they certainly did! The biggest surprise of the day was going to pick them up and them not wanting to leave! MuMan and I both said they looked like they’d aged a year from dropping them off to picking them up! They came out with a confidence and independence that we’ve not really seen before. We spent the whole walk home laughing and looking slightly agog trying to work out what had happened to our little girls in just one day.

The rest of the evening has been spent trying to calm them down as they’ve been so full of beans! What an amazing start and what a relief but how annoying that I even doubted their ability and their readiness for this next stage of their little lives.

To back track a little to the middle part of the day, I feel like I need to talk about what their time at nursery means to me. This isn’t my first day without them, they have regularly spent the day with my Mum to give me time to work on MuMar and generally manage life! But today was a bit different. Usually they spend time away from me because I have things to do and achieve. But today they were the ones going off to do and achieve and I was the one left behind needing to be entertained! Thankfully I had MuMan with me and we let ourselves off the hook a little and had a ‘date day’! Which was very lovely and comforting to share the strange feelings of not knowing what our Twinkles were doing or how they were behaving or how they were handling it all. I guess that’s a feeling I’m going to have to get used to as this is it now, two days a week for the next year and then… well we won’t even talk about how I’ll be feeling when they have to start school!

So that’s my story of their first day. MuMan’s will give you a great view of the difference between a Mum and a Dad’s take on these things!

So, coming to publish this month’s article I find myself having to add an unexpected part three! If I didn’t, you’d be left without the complete picture and that would defeat the object of this.
Week one of nursery was great, as I described above, but we’re now in to the start of week 3 and facing a VERY different scenario. If you’ve seen my new Vlog you will have heard me talk about my experience of ‘the peel’ (watch it here if you’re yet to see it) – something that came as a surprise after such a good start to the nursery experience and only seems to be getting worse! We are now experiencing a very sad, heart wrenching experience of nursery drop offs with lots of tears and pleading not to go. Heart wrenching because I’m the one having to force them to go and having to leave them screaming “Mummy” at the top of their lungs, leaving me questioning what it’s all for and having to convince myself ‘it’s for their own good’.

And the bit that makes it worse: that comfort I had from sending twins off together, knowing they had each other – that seems to be the very thing that’s making it worse. As they “set each other off” so I was told today.

It seems new beginnings can sometimes be easy, sometimes excruciating and sometimes both in one!

I’d love to hear your experiences of sending your little ones off for the first time. And don’t forget to read the rest of the MuMag teams’ articles all centred around new beginnings – the challenges, the expectations and the excitement.

MuMum x

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