Thank youToday was “Anna’s” last day working at Ariel’s nursery. Anna has worked in the baby room for a long time, and has been a constant Significant Adult for Ariel ever since she started at nursery nearly two years ago. Even after Ariel moved up from the baby room to the toddler room last year, Anna has always been a firm favourite. She is always cheerful, kind, loving, friendly, fun and – more importantly than any of these things, perhaps – she is always there. She has been a skilled worker in a demanding profession. We loved her.

Even miserable, antisocial, shy, self-centred little Maia cannot help but shed a tear. Even I couldn’t help but offer our friend a hug as we said goodbye. Anna herself had been in tears half the afternoon, so sad to leave “her” beloved children, kissing them all and wondering if she was doing the right thing in leaving this world, her world, behind.

Why is she going? What will she do?

She is going because, as a mother of three herself, with the youngest about to start school, she is no longer able to fit her job around her life. Instead, she is going to spend more time with her own children while she still can, and work long evening shifts in a big local supermarket.

It breaks my heart.

Someone so highly trained, so experienced, so skilled, so beloved, so needed – lost from an essential vocation at which she excelled into the soulless world of filling shelves or scanning barcodes or whatever it is she will be doing (I couldn’t bear to ask for details). All for the want of decent, affordable after-school arrangements for her own children. In what possible world can this make sense? Only in ours.

It breaks my heart.