This is my non-fiction post for the prompt we'd like you to write a scene that includes a happy ending. So far being back to work has been exhausting and emotional. I know that once we all adjust, we'll likely experience more happy times. I didn't include a happy ending because, well, so far it's been exhausting and emotional...
“How’s he been?” I whispered to Miss Kylie.
“You know what? For his first day, he did great. Like we told you on the phone, when you called again this afternoon, he had lots of moments of realization of where he was, then started crying. But that’s to be expected.”
“Mmhmm. What about food? Did he eat?”
I fired off one question after another, wanting to hear that something went right. It was Wednesday, the third day in my first week of being back to work. Nothing was going as I’d hoped.
“He ate some bread, a little yogurt, a few grapes. But you probably went through this when you went back after Deaglan right? It’ll just take a few days for him to adjust. And, for you to adjust.” She tilted her head, looking at me with sympathy. I blinked back my tears. I walked out to the deck where Miss Sandy and Miss Debbie were watching three of the babies play in the sun on the enclosed space.
“Naveen, look who it is! Is that Mummy?” Miss Sandy chirped. She was Deaglan’s favourite when he was in the Baby Room two and a half years ago. I picked up my tiny boy, who collapsed into my arms, crying and grabbing my face. Where have you been? he demanded with his miniature fists.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, my sweetheart,” I whispered into the warmth of his sweet soft neck.
On Monday morning he woke up with a fever, watery eyes and clogged sinuses. Shaune took a sick day from work so I wouldn’t have to miss my first day back. On Tuesday, Gramma and Grampa drove the hour to London to watch him so I wouldn’t have to miss my second day. Wednesday was his first full day at Daycare.
And each morning, Deaglan had to be peeled off of me, wailing, “Mama, don’t go, mama don’t go.” I pressed my palm against his cheek, reminding him of the Kissing Hand, the story about Chester Raccoon who didn’t want to go to school either. Chester’s mother tells him about the kissing hand, a kiss on his palm from his mother he could access anytime he felt lonely. I promised that I would come back at the end of the day, pick him up and we’d sit on the front step at home and eat fudgesicles.
This morning I got into the van after dropping the boys off and drove the three minutes to my parking space, wondering how I would ever get used to being away from them for eight hours each day. I thought long and hard about those mothers in primitive cultures who kept their babies on their bodies in packs for the first year, nursed them right into and through toddlerhood. A pain shot through me, remembering Naveen’s incredulous crying when he realized that I was leaving him there that first morning.
And as I stepped out of the van into the small puddle I’d parked beside, the buckle on my black sandal broke off and fell into the muddy water. I fished around, found it and climbed back into the vehicle to slip into the heels I was saving for the soft carpet of my workspace. When I stepped back outside, I lost my balance for a second and dropped my envelope full of snapshots of the kids into the same puddle.
I don’t know what I was expecting this first week back to work.