What is it with "mum guilt"? I feel guilty about everything when it comes to my kids.
Our baby has just spent his first day in daycare.
I'd had mixed feelings about the decision to hand him over for one day a week at 16 months old, but he had spent heaps of time there during the summer holidays in what were his older brother's final days before starting school and it seemed as good a time as any to start him.
He loved being there, bumbling between all the different activities on offer and playing with the other children so it felt like the right time.
He loves it. He doesn't cry when I go. He is a busy kid and super cruisy, which is partly what made it so hard. I wasn't feeling like I needed the "break".
In an effort to distract myself, I went and did something I hadn't done for ages - exercise. Then I went to the supermarket without my little friend.
I was reminded how easy things are when you don't have an unpredictable companion who needs to be carried everywhere.
At 13kg, he's not exactly easy to lug around either.
I threw myself in the sea after my run. I had a shower at the Surf Club in the hot sun. There was no hurry.
It felt amazing. How long had it been since I had done anything like this? I couldn't even remember the last time I wasn't clock-watching.
As I went back to the car, I heard a baby cry. I felt a sudden pang of sadness, like I was missing something.
What's wrong with me? I should be happy!
I sat down on my seat as I got into the car and glanced at the passenger side where I saw his little shoes that I had decided at the last minute he wouldn't need. My heart sank. Even though he is a big boy those shoes are still so little.
I felt guilty for leaving him when he is such a happy, cruisy boy.
I felt even more guilt for putting the two older children in daycare when they were younger too, but at the time, I really, really needed the down time.
So many working parents feel guilty about not having this time with their kids and I couldn't cope and needed a break.
Multiple times throughout the day, I found myself standing somewhere and gasping, my mind thinking: "Oh my goodness I've forgotten to check him, is he okay?" before I realised I didn't have to.
It was the same in the car. I glanced back several times expecting to see a little hand or hear a noise, or panicking that I hadn't checked him in ages.
When I picked him up, he was perfectly happy. He'd slept no problem.
He'd had a great day. So had I. But I'd missed his little face.
That's the weird thing about kids. You miss your down time, the peace and quiet of the solitude you used to depend on.
Then you finally get some and you don't know if you enjoy it anymore.
They make you question yourself constantly. I can only imagine the "empty nest" when the kids leave home feels like this only much more intense.
It turns out I should have just enjoyed that day a little more without the guilt because I am going to be working those daycare days now, so there won't be any more swims in the sea.
Yet I'm going to feel guilty about working too.