I returned to work after a year of maternity leave, I was ready to return although I did find the whole process of my child going to nursery daunting and difficult and the mum guilt was at an all-time high throughout the three or so years our boy was there. Luckily grandparents helped with some childcare which eased the guilt as they adored spending additional time with their grandchild. Because of the whole nursery process, I did not anticipate the high emotions I experienced as the first day of school approached.

The guilt I feel over the gambling in the early years of my child’s life is great, however, I am coming to realise that you cannot change the past.

As the first day of school loomed, I began to stress about every little thing:

Would they get on with the other children?

Would the teacher help with the toilet?

What if they needed a drink?

This was heightened as I and my husband had to juggle school settling in sessions with full time work. Sorting school uniforms, PE kits, additional kits and booking breakfast and after school clubs was a nightmare.

Crayons

Craft time is great fun

It was such an emotional time, of course I was as proud as anything seeing my child wearing the school uniform, posing for pictures and having fun outside the gates with some friends from nursery. However, I remember returning from the first school session with a lovely pack the school had provided for us nervous parents (tea bag, chocolate bar and lovely poem) feeling drained and a mixture of emotions.

It was at this time that I thought that if I had been gambling, I would have had no idea how any of the school processes would have been completed and whether my family would have got through such a time. I was so thankful at that moment that I was in recovery, that I had been able to be there for my child and husband and support myself. I was able to be present not just physically but mentally and I felt so proud at that moment! It was perhaps some fuel for motivation going forwards, a feeling to cling onto.

The guilt I feel over the gambling in the early years of my child’s life is great, however, I am coming to realise that you cannot change the past.

I can though learn from it, remember how bad I felt and ensure I do everything I can to never feel like that again and be the best person, mother, wife and friend I can be.

It has also become apparent that the first days of school were nothing in terms of parent commitment and involvement. Since then there have been hundreds of messages, groups, homework, activities, events and payments made to various causes. It takes lots of time and planning to ensure you stay on top of things and if I was still gambling I know my child would be suffering as I would not be on top of all those things or contributing and their whole school experience would be different.

A good experience and a good personal win.