When we walked into nursery today she was grand. She’s been going there since she was under 1 you see, so it’s like her second home.

And then she got shy. She hid behind my leg, and she wouldn’t come out. The guilt hits then because I had a meeting to go to and five weeks into my new job I’ve switched teams and today is a massive day and I just didn’t have time to faff about.

So I unwrapped her from my leg and I gave her a quick kiss, told her she’d be fine and I handed her off. And I left.

Because the person I handed her to, she isn’t just someone who works in a nursery. She is family to my child. She is the person who will spend more time with her today than I will. She is the person who will make sure she eats her blueberries at lunch time while I argue the case for better in community care for the mentally ill.

Regardless of how much I wish I could be at home all day, the reality is that I just can’t be. And the reality is there are other people who help me bring up my child.

They are the unsung heroes of the working world, they work incredibly long hours, with less than amazing pay. They look after more babies and toddlers than my brain can even begin to understand, and they spend all day changing, feeding, wiping and loving these children without once dropping the smile from their faces.

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

Thank you for making sure that she really is fine when I have to dash out the door. I didn’t even look back today, and I have no doubt that she is currently engaged in some sort of fun game or task. Thank you for creating such a safe environment for her so that I can just leave her, knowing that in two seconds time she will have forgotten I was even there.

Thank you for teaching her. She knows all this stuff, that as much as I’d like to take credit for, it was you guys that showed her how to make numbers with her fingers different ways. She knows how to make 5 in like three different ways, thank you for taking the time to teach her. Thanks also for taking the time to write all her little milestones down, so that even though I’m not there when they happen, that I can read about as though I am.

Thank you for being patient with her. When you tell me that you had to speak to her about listening I can only imagine the day you’ve had. Sometimes she’s a nightmare! Her ears are painted on and she just does her own thing. So thank you, for being patient. For not loosing your rag with her and for allowing her to get dressed herself even though it takes way longer than it needs to.

Thank you for not even blinking when she turns up with pen all over arms because she’s a ‘tiger’ or when she has chocolate spread on her face. Yes I have the best intentions to bath her every day but sometimes I forget, or she falls asleep before I get a chance. Yes I wish she ate Weetabix every day for breakfast but she doesn’t. Most of the time she has some cereal way too high in sugar content or something with Nutella. Sorry about that. Thank you for accepting, without judgement that sometimes I suck at the work/life balance.

Thanks for accepting that her set up is a bit different to others, and for including her anyway. I love my Fathers Day tie that she made because she was insistent that her Mummy is her Daddy. Thanks for not laughing too loud when she told the class that her Daddy is the Sainsbury’s delivery man who brings the nursery’s food shop in. Thanks for not making a big deal of the fact that she’s oblivious to the fact she doesn’t have a Dad.

And most importantly, thank you for being there. We couldn’t do this without you, us working parents. Thanks for getting out of bed at stupid times and working hard every day so we can feel a little bit less guilty for going to work. Thanks for opening the doors to your homes so my child can play with yours.

Working is hard. Working guilt is hard. Thankfully there super heroes in our midst who we call key workers, childminders, nursery workers and teachers who come along and pick up the slack sometimes, who help us shoulder 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.