‘You can go now,’ the child care teacher says to me as she nods toward the door.
My heart sinks.
It’s my daughter’s first day in care and we’ve only been there about 10 minutes. My pre-schooler is skipping around excitedly looking at all the new toys and saying hello to her new friends.
This is not how I had imagined things. Where are the tears and clinging? I’d planned to spend most of the day helping her to settle in. When I did eventually leave, I thought she’d be sad to see me go.
I was also expecting joy and elation at my newfound freedom; that my former identity would be waiting for me on the other side of the childproof gate — the identity that got chucked out with the placenta, the one that had a reason to where lipstick and spontaneously did things for herself just because she could.
I have been fitting my work and social life in between the tiny cracks of mothering for three years. I love being a mother but I’ve been looking forward to this day for months — when my daughter would start child care and I would get a day off — a whole one, just for me.
But my old self wasn’t anywhere to be seen. All that was waiting for me was a sense of emptiness.