I think back to last time and I remember the drill and knowing there will be some tears, I take heart that it will be okay. I take some deep breaths and dust down the 'lines' about being a working mother and putting my baby into nursery I have collected these past few years.
There are gooey ones, like how I like the idea of lots of people giving lots of input into his early years, like it is good for him to learn there's more than one way to sing The Wheels On The Bus (even if I know that my way, which includes a driver saying 'no more pushchairs', is the best way). Like the fact that I know he will be cherished there, just like his brother is, as there is a lovely vibe and lots of cuddles and something in the nursery's slightly scatty ethos which embraces the idea of a village raising a child. And that being in a caring situation with lots of other babies is the first baby step towards that important life lesson - that despite being so fucking AMAZING Newborn, like his brother, is not the centre of the universe. This is, of course, a lesson I cannot teach either of them as for me my babies are the universe.
There are the old standards too - 'my lovely Mother worked and it never did me any harm', and that research into child development which I have looked into seems to suggest there are decent arguments to be made but these are about the quality of good parenting, not the quantity. And there are the facts: we could not afford for me not to work, even if almost all our money is taken up in childcare fees.
Then there are the jokes. We all need them. An armoury of humour, for a sensitive subject. When it comes to being a working mother, mine centre on my body and my fervent desire for a hot, yes HOT, cup of tea. 'Can't wait to be back at work,' I laugh. 'At least there I'll get a lunch break'. And, depending on company, I sometimes acknowledge I'm looking forward to going back as in the eight years on my current job, no-one has yet sucked my tits whilst I was on the loo. So far.
Which got me thinking about mothering and our mother's bodies. There is a lot to say, and it is in my experience one of the profoundly shocking things about becoming a mother. Ignoring even for the moment the violation and ruin that birth sometimes wreaks on some poor unfortunates - our children's view of our bodies is quite something. To bastardise Freud, it seems true to me that when they are tiny they think you are the same thing: you and them, mother and child, one big fuzzy, squashy over-tired motherchild.
Even as they grow, my sons act like my body belongs to them. They stick my fingers in their mouths and theirs into mine, casually leave a little hand in my cleavage, absent-mindedly pawing my décolletage whilst reading or chatting or watching TV. They touch me and pull me, grab handfuls of me. They shove and lick and pull. Both have bitten me. One so badly, and on the boob, that I had to go to an NHS Walk In Centre in one of London's red light districts, whereupon I was asked by a nurse if I had sustained the human bite at work.
Today I'm wearing a thinnish summer top. Newborn claps his hands and screams with glee when he sees my boobs anyway; today he has a GLINT IN HIS EYE as he can half make them out. He sees them as his, just as Spider-boy expects and trusts he'll get his share of my Easter Eggs and attention and lap for cuddles. Just as both have, and always will, see my house as theirs. My poor house, which like my tits was once a monument I decorated to show the best of myself and my taste, and is now tattered and beleaguered and prematurely aged.
They walk in on me naked in the bath, and ignore any sense of my space. My bed, my arms, my head - all belong to them and I cannot go for a wee without someone squeaking or squalling or unleashing an avalanche of 'WHY's. Leading me back to the joked about imminent peace of a cubicle at work... But the train of thought has prompted the most dreadful realisation. I am the same as Spider-boy, and his attention-demanding brother. In fact I'm worse, as I am a Mum and I should know better.
Last time I stayed at my parent's house I wanted to borrow a pair of scissors. I walked to my Mum's room. She was in the loo. I called in and asked her where the scissors were. I had to search carefully for the memory, as it was so commonplace I missed the importance of that non-anecdote, and every other time I've done it. Her personal space, her body, her bedroom, doesn't really exist in the mind of me, her child. I am as boundary-less as a toddler, and my mother, even 33 years on, still can't have a piss in peace. No wonder she went to work.