As much as I love daycare, I must admit that leaving my daughter every morning is something I just can’t get used to. I know that she’s well cared for, I know that she’s going to have a great day, and I know that I’ll be back there to pick her up faster than I can imagine – especially with work being as busy as it is. All things considered, I’m lucky that Everly is still very “out of sight, out of mind,” and once she can’t see me, she’s off to the races, elbow deep in the water table or painting one of her friends (literally painting them, not painting with them).
However, there is that moment every morning where she realizes what’s about to happen and she clings to me with every ounce of her strength, and it kind of sucks.
All morning, she’s ready. She is a happy little kid, helping me get her dressed. I say “pants” and up go the legs, while she repeats “pans pans pans” and I wiggle her diapered little bum into her stained daycare clothing. Once we’re dressed, it’s a quick goodbye to daddy, where she laughs, blows kisses and says “buh-bye daddy, BUH-BYE.” Downstairs we go; all the while I tell her we’re getting ready for school. “Schoo? Fwiends?” she says, because she knows what’s going on. We go through “sooze” and “buh-bye doggy” and “cawr?” and off we go. There is always something fun about our mornings, which isn’t what you’d expect to hear.
As we drive, we dance, we sing, we nom bananas. All the while, telling her we’re heading to school. She kicks her legs in excitement, ready to start the day with her “fwiends.” We pull into the parking lot, and she’s practically tearing the car seat out of the car, trying to jump from it. I’m so happy that she’s excited to go to school, and I hope that today will be the day she happily toddles off when I leave.
This is where it starts to fall apart.
We get upstairs and sign her in; all the while she clings to me. I give her long, tight hugs. I breathe in the smell of a relatively fresh bathed baby (you know, from the night before), and I melt into the embrace of a toddler who just doesn’t want to let her mommy go. I tell her I love her, I tell her I’ll be back after school, I tell her about all the fun things she’s about to do, and I hug her. She clings to me. I hold her tight. I want her to know I love her even if I have to leave. She is happy to see her friends, but still apprehensive about us being apart. Inevitably, one of the people at daycare will take her from me, and usually they will go and “wash wash” her hands, because this is her latest obsession. She cries when I turn my back, and my heart shatters a little every time. I’m sure this all affects me much more than her, as this is how these things go.
The drop is hard.
By the time I’m out the door, waiting for the elevator, she’s squealing with excitement while she smashes play dough or paints a picture or chases her friends around with a puppet. I am out of sight, out of mind, and she is over it. However, I am not.
I leave a little sad, both because I hate to leave her upset and because I know she probably doesn’t miss me all day like I miss her. I try to act like a grown up and just be happy she has so much fun, but every morning, there it is, a niggling feeling of sadness and regret.
Throughout the day, I think about her and all the fun she’s having. I wish I could pop in and visit her but, the daycare prefers we don’t do this, as it tends to create a cascading effect of crying toddlers. I understand and respect that, and really I don’t need to go through leaving her more than once per day, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see her.
I miss my girl, and the miss is sad.
By the time the end of the day rolls around, I’m racing out the door. I finish off my final pre-retrieval errands with this strange sense of anxiety. I can’t get going fast enough; as time ticks on and it gets longer and longer since I’ve seen her, my heart races and I stress. I just want to get to her. I don’t want to be the last mom to pick up her kid. I don’t want her to think I’ve abandoned her. I need to get there RIGHT NOW, and why didn’t I leave work earlier and WHEN WILL I SEE MY BABY?!?!?!
I don’t know why I do this to myself because EVERY SINGLE TIME I pick her up, she is having the time of her life. She will see me, give me a big smile, and then run squealing in the other direction. She’s digging in the sand box, watering the vegetable garden or otherwise doing some amazingly fun activity she won’t be doing when we get home. She is happy to see me, to know that I’m now with her, but she wants to stay. She wants us all to stay there and play and hang out, and mostly I’m chasing her and trying to get her to “go home and see daddy.” After all the difficulty with the drop and the sadness of the miss, I am now faced with the part of the day where I have to beg her to go home. She is happy, all my anxieties are lifted, and we are one day closer to spending our weekend together.
The retrieval is the best.
Every day is an emotional ride when it comes to going to work. I hope she’s happy when I wake her up (she almost always is), and we always have a fun morning. The anxiety starts to sink in as I drive, and realize she’ll soon be clinging to me, asking me not to leave. Once I’m gone, I spend the day stressing over work tasks, cramming whatever I can into my lunch break, and missing my little girl. I mean, it’s not like every day is horrible, I just often can’t help feeling like a piece of me is missing; my sidekick is not beside me. Once I pick her up, the stress lifts and I feel complete again.
I’m hopeful that soon, she’ll stop clinging to me when I leave in the morning, because that is what sets the mood for my day. By the end of her time in the Infant Program, drop-off was a breeze. She ran in like she OWNED that place, yelled “buh-bye mommy” and was on her way. It’s only been since the transition to the toddler side, back on September 1, that the crying when I leave has started again. The friends are different, the teachers are different and the program is different. She went from being the oldest, big kid in the infant side to being 1 of 2 youngest on the toddler side. Her world has changed, and I think she’s just not quite as comfortable there as she was before; but she’s my kid and she will adjust.
Until then, we just drop, miss and retrieve.