I am the mum of *that* kid who screams at the nursery door every morning when I drop her off. The mum no-one wants to be. The mum the other mums shoot pitying looks at. The mum who the nursery staff must surely think is somehow making this harder on her kid.
I am the mum who puts a brave face on as she sets foot through the nursery gates each morning. Who smiles through gritted teeth at the sidelong glances that the other mums – whose kids don't scream the place down – throw my way.
I am the mum who spends the entire 90 minute 'settling in' nursery session sobbing in the Co-op car park because she just abandoned her three year old in the care of total strangers. The mum who ignored her child's high-pitched pleas of 'Don't leave me here with them, Mummy.' Who wonders if this might be doing some sort of real damage beyond just fraying her nerves to shreds.
I am the mum who jokes on Facebook about the harrowing nursery drop-off to hide her angst. The mum who cracks easy jokes at her own expense rather than endure another awkward conversation where someone tries to dispense unsolicited advice about how to toughen up that precious baby girl.
I am the mum who tries to ignore the thinly-veiled hint that she has somehow failed her daughter because she cries when she's left at the nursery door. The mum who inwardly believes it's no bad thing that her child would rather be with her mother than in the company of strangers and other rowdy kids. Who lies awake at night dreading tomorrow's re-run and wondering if perhaps she *has* done something wrong to make this rite of passage so much harder than it seems to be for all the other mums.
I am the mum who secretly contemplates giving up work in order to avoid another week of leaving her daughter screaming till she's purple in the face. The mum who's never heard her daughter make that sound before, nor ever seen her descend into such distress. Who wonders if it's really worth it for a few extra hours of work.
I am the mum who hides in the coffee shop where the other mums talk loudly about how *their* children dance into nursery without a backwards glance. The mum who refuses to feel the guilt that others seem to want her to, just because her daughter is quite happy to just go on hanging out at home with her.
I am the mum who feels wrung out by bedtime but who summons the energy to talk up the excitement of going to nursery yet again tomorrow. The mum who wonders if wine on a school night is sometimes justified. Who makes a pot of tea instead and dreads to think about how long this phase could last.
I am the mum who fleetingly contemplates home-schooling but who knows this too shall pass. The mum who knows that doesn't really help right now. Who would like to pull a nursery sickie and spend just one more day hanging out at home together – doing jigsaws, singing silly songs, making banana cake and bouncing on the trampoline – without anyone prising us apart or trying to tell us that if I'd only been a more accomplished / assertive / less fun mum, I wouldn't be the mum going through this awful stage of mum-hood.
I am the mum who knows tomorrow is another day.