When I dropped #3 off at nursery today she was so excited. She got new slippers yesterday (tiger ones) and she couldn’t wait to show her friends, and the staff her new footwear.

You see, I work a lot. I have a lot of projects on right now, I’m juggling a lot of plates, and if I’m not at college, I’m at work, or I’m training, or I’m writing. And this means, that #3 spends the vast majority of her time (between 36-42 hours a week) being effectively brought up by other women.

When she first started nursery, about 18 months ago, I had never left her with anyone, other than my Mum and a couple of close friends. I was terrified to put her into childcare, having never needed to utilise the option with #1 and #2. We were lucky, and we hit the jackpot with the staff and setting that she is in, and she has thrived and absolutely fallen in love with the entire place. I am incredibly thankful to the girls who help me bring up my child when I can’t be there, even though I desperately wish I could be with her all the time.

They are the unsung heroes of the working world, they work incredibly long hours, with not very exciting pay, they look after more babies and toddlers than my brain can even fathom, and they spend all day changing, feeding, wiping, and loving these children without a moan or a fake smile.

So to the girls who love, and look after my child when I cannot be there – thank you.

Thank you for comforting her when she is upset or isn’t feeling quite herself. She’s still only wee, not quite 3 yet, and sometimes she just needs a cuddle. So thank you for providing them, unlimitedly and without reservation. Thank you for making her feel safe and secure when I’m not there.

Thank you for helping her overcome her fears. When she first started nursery she was so shy, she hated new people and change and would cling horribly to her key worker when it came to music on a Tuesday. Thank you for being patient with her and helping her overcome this gradually, at her own pace. She is turning into a confident, capable little girl who happens to now love music on a Tuesday, and that is because of you (certainly not me, music Tuesdays is not my thing), so thank you.

Thank you for not judging us when we turn up at 7:30am and she is still in her PJs. It’s hard work getting 3 children out the door for 7am, and sometimes I don’t quite tick all the boxes. There have been times when I have dropped her off in last nights jammies, and times when I have had to carry her sleeping from her bed, to the car, and into nursery, to hand the reigns over to you. Thank you for accepting, without judgement, that sometimes I suck at the life/work balance thing.

Thank you for teaching her. As we pulled up at a friends house the other day she announced “dat a 4 Mummy”.  And it was. She then proceded to correctly identify all the numbers from 1-10, and even pointed at the traffic sign and declared it a ‘pizza shape’ (ok, I’ll take credit for that one). Thank you, for teaching her and educating her, in a way that has coaxed her out of her shell and allowed her to blossom into the child she is now. And thank you, for all those hours spent in your own time where you document these new things, log them and email them to me so I can read them (normally at 3am when I’m awake for no apparent reason) and be reassured that I haven’t ruined her by choosing to return to work.

And most importantly, thank you for your patience. #3 is unique, as is every child. There are times when I literally have no idea what she is saying, there are times when she throws her tea at me and announces “dat disgusting Mummy” (thanks for teaching her disgusting too by the way), and there are times when she really pushes my buttons. So thank you, for being patient with her, and for coaxing her to eat her lunch, and for waiting until she stops stropping so she can put on her shoes. Thank you for accepting her for who she is, super hero masks her head and all. And for loving her anyway.

Life is hard sometimes, for single parents and non single parents alike. Working can be hard on everyone; kids, parents, grandparents, everyone. But thankfully there are the super heroes in our midst who we call key workers, teachers, nursery workers, childminders, the list goes on, who come along and help pick up the slack sometimes, who help to share the burden. They are sometimes taken for granted, and unappreciated, but maybe we should all be slightly more thankful for the role that they play.