At seven months pregnant, Annabelle should have been preparing a nursery for the much-anticipated arrival of her daughter.
Instead, she was preparing to say goodbye to her soul mate.
Annabelle’s husband, Josh passed away two months before their daughter, Primose was born. He never got a chance to hold her, to kiss her, or to watch her grow into a little girl.
He also never got a chance to watch his wife become a mum.
Although Annabelle knew that Josh would eventually lose his battle with brain cancer, learning to live without him nearly broke her. All of a sudden she was a single, pregnant mum-to-be, preparing to do the newborn thing alone.
Although we both knew it was coming, and we had the opportunity to talk about his life, our life together, and what he wanted my life to be like in the future, I was still grief-stricken,” Annabelle tells Mum Central.
No one plans on bringing a baby into the world like this. But Annabelle did. She welcomed Primose and took on the role of a single mum.
It was incredibly overwhelming thinking I was going to raise my daughter alone in circumstances I never could have imagined, nor wished upon anyone else,” Annabelle says.
Finding a village
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But Annabelle, like many new mums, didn’t have a village. She did, however, have her family, her friend, Dann, and her childcare centre.
During those early newborn days, Annabelle’s mate Dann moved in. Dann brought colour, company and hope into Annabelle’s life at a time when she saw very little.
As Primose entered that adorable infant stage, Annabelle had to return to work four days a week as an Ambassador for Cure Brain Cancer. It was so important then to find someone to watch over Primrose, so alongside friends and family, Guardian Lemon Tree in Carlton has played a crucial role, becoming her extended family.
Starting at Guardian childcare
Like all mums, single or attached, those first days of childcare can be hard. You feel rusty at your job. You miss your baby. You’re unsure if you’ve made the right decision.
But Annabelle knew Primose was exactly where she needed to be.
Over the months, Guardian Lemon Tree became part of Annabelle’s extended family and Primose adores her childcare family.
She loves her educators and comes home each day brimming with stories of what she’s learned and activities she’s enjoyed.”
And, as Annabelle tells us, she is learning so much! She’s learning her letters and numbers, how to share, how to set the table, and all about the world around her and how to interact with others in this world.
[Childcare] really improved her social skills; she’s not just learning cues from me, but she’s interacting with other children.
I already see her forming her own friendships and she’s developing an understanding of her own space and independence, which is incredibly important for her and rewarding for me to see.”
She’s also discovered the messy world of craft, which Annabelle, admits, isn’t her favourite at-home activity.
At Guardian she can do the messy craft activities, she has time to explore and I can see she benefits enormously from those experiences.”
Finding her parenting stride
However, perhaps the thing that’s helped Annabelle the most is the partnership she’s formed. Together, Annabelle and the team at her Guardian Childcare and Education Centre have tackled plenty of major milestones with Primrose – bottle transition, toilet training, developing good eating habits and so much more.
The team have helped me through many of Primrose’s developmental stages. I have taken cues from the activities they do with the children, including replicating the songs they are singing, the crafts they are doing – the list really is endless.
The educators observe what sparks her curiosity and interest, and that’s something I explore during my time with her, too, to encourage her in her learning and development.”
It really does take a village
Many mums assume all the responsibility for raising their baby and this can be a very stressful thing. This shouldn’t be the case.
Attending Lemon Tree has ensured we stay connected to the world. Her world isn’t just me and her, it’s the whole community at the centre.
As a single mother this is so important, because her educators are showing her it’s OK to learn from other people. That mum is not the sole source of truth.”
Every parent deserves help and support, even if the circumstances are not ideal. While Annabelle may be missing a major piece of her village – her husband, she is incredibly grateful for the support she does have.
My village is my incredible family, friends and Guardian Lemon Tree, all of whom have been with me throughout my parenting journey with Primrose, and are still by my side.
And, of course, Josh, who gave me a pathway out of grief. He wanted me to be happy, for Primrose to be happy. Despite it all, I feel very lucky.”
Discover the Guardian Childcare village
When choosing childcare, it’s so important to find that connection with the staff and to know that the carers truly care about your little one. At Guardian Childcare, this is something you can count on.
Guardian Lemon Tree Centre Manager Lily Donaldson tells Mum Central,
Childcare really is an extension of the family. We aren’t just educating and caring for children. We build partnerships with families to help raise these children and create a strong, learning community that we can all benefit from.”