I have come to the conclusion that without your mum there is no truly guilt-free childcare in the world. Only to your mum can you hand over a crying baby, close the door, climb into your bed and sleep, knowing that nobody minds. That she loves your baby as you do; that her love for the baby is an extension of her love for you. It’s all part of the same thing.
I should mention before I begin that I have two completely wonderful sisters, whose kindness and generosity and love have been unsurpassed, and without whom I would be utterly lost. I am touched every day by the depth of their love for my baby, and I look forward to the time when they have children of their own: nieces and nephews for me to love in turn. But I am writing here about my mum, and the things we miss because she is not here.
I find that unless the reason I need childcare is that I am actually going to work, to bring in money, my guilt is difficult to reconcile. I could never have somebody else take care of Eve whilst I get my hair done, or go shopping. They just don’t seem like good enough reasons to ask other people to look after my child. Luckily there is Ben, and so I am not walking about like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. But I can’t help feeling that the two of us are doing this on our own. If it takes a village to raise a child, I am afraid we find ourselves sorely lacking.
I am pretty certain that Ben and me would have had more nights out over the last 2 years had my mum been around. Hell, maybe even a weekend away. But she isn’t and it’s a good thing we like watching telly! Don’t get me wrong, we have been out (once or twice) and kind friends and family have stepped in to take care of Eve. But with everyone else there is that vague guilt that tugs at you half way through your film or your curry or your bottle of wine: surely they’ve got somewhere else they’ve got to be; something more important to do; we’d better get back. And what if the baby is a total horror and gives the kind sitter the evening from hell?
If it’s your mum, chances are she just won’t mind all that much, because she’s done it all before. Because the howling red-faced little person in her arms can do no wrong. She won’t tell you how awful it’s been, because it hasn’t been that awful, to her, and you really don’t need to know. And she’ll pace the landing all night long if she has to, just to let you sleep.
I also know that no one is ever going to turn up and just do my ironing, or change the beds or clean the loo. And I am fine with that. I don’t even do my own ironing. But I am sad my mum is not here to just come and sort us out once in awhile. The person you listen to above all others. Who has seen you at your very worst and who loves you anyway. Who you trust to choose the right thing for you, when you just need someone to tell you what that thing is.
Perhaps I sound like a lazy cow who just needs a cleaner; that I’m just pissed off because I’ve got no one to help me. But it’s not that. I am just grieving for the thousand tiny acts of love she would bestow if she were here. She’d have so loved these babies.
I am sorry to say that I often feel a stab of envy when I see kind grannies with their small grandchildren in the park or on the tube or at a playgroup. I want to ask them if they know how lucky they are. To make them understand what a privilege it is to be fit and well and enjoying a day out with the children of their children. Treasure these days, I want to say. For you are the fortunate.
18 thoughts on “Guilt-free Childcare?”
Hi Helen, I love your writing and was very moved by this post. Thanks for sharing x
Thanks, Lauren. Keep reading! x
Beautifully written. I am very lucky that my own mother lives just 2 minutes down the road, but I still feel those pangs of envy when I see grannies with their grandchildren – my mother will do anything for me except babysit!
I was all too aware in fact when writing this post that those of us without our mums do not have the monopoly on Doing It On Our Own. There are all sorts of reasons why mothers are unable (or unwilling!) to be around. And either way it’s hard! Thanks for commenting, Kate.
DH and and I didn’t spend a night away from our children for almost three years, despite my being eager to embrace a full night of sleep. At times it was a very long three years. I found afterwards though that I was a new woman as a result. Yes, my mum looked after my children, and I was very grateful for it. But I still felt a pull to be home with my babies.
But I also realised that taking time for yourself is, in part, what makes you a good mum. Be kinder to yourself. There is value in you having a break, and if someone has offered it’s because they want to. I’d offer to babysit for you, if only to get out of putting my own children to bed sometimes.
Over time you will build up that village you talk of, find it easier to go out and get your hair done, swap babysitting duties with other friends. It won’t make up for not having your mum, but it will make life a little easier. Good luck.
Thank you for the advice, and you’re right. I am lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family to call on…
Your mum obviously loved you very much and her influence will make you a wonderful mum yourself. Whenever we lose people we love it is always too soon but your mum has left a great legacy of love.
We really had the best teacher in the world. Thank you!
As a mum of two and friend of one of your lovely sisters and someone who had the fortune of meeting your beautiful mum on a few occasions, I read this and wept. I can’t imagine not having my mum for the little times when you just need a sleep or a blow dry or a moment of sanity.
Your daughter is blessed to have you and your sisters as knowing the three of you any children brought into your family Helen will know your mum through the kindness and gentleness of you three beautiful women. Much love x
What a lovely message. Thank you!
I totally understand that feeling. Well written and so very true. When you have lost your mum being a mum is not quite whole. I will never get over the fact that my mum never met my children but I talk about her all the time to the kids. Nothing will make up for the fact that you feel like an island but friends become family once your own parents have gone. Your child is lucky to have such a dedicated mum. I have used sitters over the last five years but with three boys I wouldn’t be sane without them!
Thank you, Kate. I am glad you say that you talk to your children about your mum. I very much want to do that. I want them to know how much she’d have loved them. Thanks for reading. x
Just wanted to say ” happy Mother’s Day ” to you Helen I find this the hardest time of the year . I know it doesn’t make it easier but you are not alone .i think you blog is such a positive place to talk about your mum .
Fiona, happy mother’s day to you too. I hope you enjoyed your day with your children. For the first time this year I found myself thinking about the card I would receive rather than the one I would not send. But yes, a painful day, and perhaps one on which to steer clear of Facebook!
Thank you for your kindness. Helen x
Although I am not a mother as yet, I hope to be lucky enough one day in the future and I love reading your blogs! This was particularly moving and strikes a chord – we should all appreciate our parents as they get older and treasure the time we have with them. A lovely piece Helen.
Thanks, Kylie. That’s so nice of you!
I just stumbled across your post and I totally understand that guilt. That reluctance to accept help and that deep pang for your Mum to swoop in and sort you, the kids, the house out. If I have a bad day it’s always compounded by the thought that if my mum was still here at least if would have someone to give me a hug and make me and cuppa, and that in itself makes it worse. Saying that my littles (3 and 1) are the things that really healed me after losing my Mum. It’s tough though, being a mum without a mum. Thanks for your blog xx
Thank you for reading. x