There's something very strange about actually experiencing something that you've been anticipating for so long. It's almost as though the imaginary version of the event that you've been playing in your head has to fight it out with reality even as you're living through the moment.
Yesterday we finally had the first day of introductions for NB and his new Mummy. Or perhaps I should just start calling her 'Mummy' now as OB has developed an unnerving habit of shouting "New Mummy! New Mummy!" at her everywhere we go!
I think I had imagined this 90 minute meeting from every possible angle during our preparation time, and by 10am, I was full of butterflies over all the various permutations I'd concocted. Of course I worried about how NB would react and whether the preparation we'd done would stand him in good stead. But I also ran through a whole gamut of nailbiting fidgets over everything from whether OB would be too interfering right down to whether I had the right sort of teabags (yes, as a non-tea drinker, I did spend 10 minutes standing in front of the teabag section in Tesco yesterday morning trying to choose between them! I got Twinings in the end).
Thankfully, it was an extremely successful start to our 10 days of introductions. NB was appropriately shy at first, but he knew who she was, and then warmed gradually over the first half hour, until he entered his 'giddy phase'! Once that was mercifully over and all the running, jumping and shouting had calmed down, he got to playing with the toy rabbit that Mummy had brought (and which had featured prominently in the prep materials).
Then Mummy did a wonderful thing: she got out her camera. NB loves gadgets of all kinds. He sat happily to have his photograph taken and then was, of course, anxious to see the results . . . and all the other photos on there! NB likes to get a GOOD look at things, so within minutes, he was nestled up against her leg with his face centimetres from the digital screen.
Following that, she let him use the camera to take some photographs. He was in heaven! Seriously, it was clear that everybody else in the room had faded well into the background as the two of them giggled and played with the camera. OB went off by himself to do some colouring and NB didn't even notice - normally whenever OB does anything, NB immediately wants a piece of the action, but not yesterday.
As Mummy drove off at the end of the session, NB waved his little hand until her car was completely out of sight. Then he turned to me and his little face crumpled and he said, "Want Mummy."
Today has gone in much the same vein. Rain curtailed our plans to go to the park, so went ended up first at the indoor play centre, and then at the garden centre to have lunch and look at the fish, lizards and rabbits. NB let Mummy take him to the toilet after lunch, and then I gently separated myself and OB from the two of them while we were looking at the fish - only just around the corner - but he was fine, only 'checking in' from time to time. Again, he was upset when she left this afternoon, and asked for her when he woke up from his nap.
So far, so good. Tomorrow she will take him out on her own for the first time. I have primed him for this by promising 'a ride in Mummy's car' - something he's been looking forward to ever since he saw her driving it on the video she made for him!
And after that come all the tricky bits. Mummy is keen that the idea is introduced to NB that he will be leaving us and not coming back (as opposed to only telling him that he's going to live with Mummy - these are not necessarily the same things in his head!). I agree, but I've held off doing it until I feel sure that's he's comfortable with this new presence in his life. Otherwise I feel as though I'd be telling him he's being cut off from the past without any idea of the future he's going to. Mummy has brought suitcases for all his things so we've agreed that I'll involve NB in helping to put his toys in there and gently talking about why we're doing that. Neither of us think that he'll really fully understand, but the concept has to be introduced nonetheless.
That's for Monday afternoon and I'm not looking forward to it!