Lee's blog: In Death as in Life
There are periods in life and in parenting when you don’t even realise you are holding your breath until you finally exhale. I have just come out of such a period. Our childminder died peacefully but suddenly and unexpectedly while we were away on holiday this summer. It brought about a huge amount of sadness and unexpected change for us.
Our childminder was only in our lives for the shortest part of hers just under a year, but it startled me how quickly we became part of a bubble that once popped left all of the pieces flying in different directions. I often told people that my childcare set up was ideal it was like leaving the girls with an aunt or grandparent – I knew wholeheartedly that she cared for our girls wholistically, and you could see how comfortable they were with her. I wasn’t sure what we would do without her.
From an emotional perspective, along with our own shock and sadness we had to navigate the death conversation with our two girls. Our 2-year-old really does not understand and just repeatedly tells us that she has gone on her holidays to Paris which is a nice thought to have and makes me smile a little. Our 6-year-old however fully understands that this is a permanent change and the questions she asked and concerns she had were equally childish and wise beyond her years – who will water her plants? Who will take the dog for a walk? Why did she die when she’s not even as old as Grandad? Her questions are now gradual and sporadic after an initial flurry but shows me that this is not just a one-off news story for her and that I need to ensure that none of her questions are ignored or unanswered. We did not take her to the funeral but visiting the grave has helped her.
One of the funny things about life as a working parent is the dependency on the village. I only work when everything else works in the background. Living as we do in a small seaside town means formal childcare options are like gold dust. An initial ring round to the limited facilities in town assured me I would be fine from September 2025 if I put their names down today and paid the sizable deposit! Brilliant!
Grandparents jumped in to help over the first few weeks as we tried to assess the options and my boss once again proved his empathy and understanding by simply stating to me – you know what your priorities are and do what you need to do until you get sorted. The amount of fellow working mums who after firstly expressing sympathy jumped into purely pragmatic problem-solving mode was brilliant – what will you do for childcare? How can I help this week? Do you want me to ask my childminder if she knows anyone?
This informal network worked its magic, and we so luckily have a new childminder in place starting this week and the exhalation of breath when my 2-year-old came out happily telling me about the garden and the toys yesterday was palpable.
Change is a constant and managing that change is a process – we miss and remember our childminder so dearly and will talk of her with the girls frequently, we have all learned a little more about the fragility of life and situations and we move forward often noting to each other and to our 6 year old that fantastic Winnie the Pooh quote “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”.
Lee is a mum, accountant, coffee lover and sometimes runner. She is married, has two young girls and works mostly remotely for a London based bank.