That moment at 6:30 AM when you drop your child off at preschool, kiss her goodbye, and then walk away to the sound of her shrieking, “Mommy!” while a teacher holds her to keep her from running out the door after you.
It feels like it takes forever to make it back to the double doors at the entrance. With every step you take, you hear your child crying her signature cry, the one that you recognize is your child without even seeing her face. That cry that causes other mothers who are walking in with their child to give you the look that says, “Oh, bless your heart.”
There are good days and there are bad days. My three-year-old daughter has been in daycare/preschool since she was 14 months old. Months 3-14 were spent in homecare environments, so this whole “mommy has to go to work and leave you with someone else” thing isn’t new.
We have these mornings every once in a while where I feel like an abysmal human being as I walk the green mile down the long hallway of her preschool. I press the little illuminating “Exit” button at the double doors to unlock them and apprehensively step outside to the sound of her crying my name, taking deep breaths as I remind myself that I am not a bad mother. I am not a bad mother. I am not a bad mother.
That first day back after a three-day weekend is the worst. Can I get an Amen?
I know she will have a good day with her little friends. She always does. She is a good kid 99% of the time and isn’t typically in trouble. She is learning a lot, making new friends, singing songs, eating every 2-3 hours, soaking in a lot of vitamin D on the playground, and I am sure she forgets that she misses me within 10 minutes of my departure as she eats breakfast with all her classmates.
It doesn’t make it any easier. In that moment, it’s the walk of shame.
I have my child in a private preschool for a few reasons. The obvious reason is that I work outside the home. I don’t have a job where I can just take her with me. Well, I could, but I wouldn’t get anything done.
In preschool, she is exposed to a wide variety of children from all different backgrounds and cultures, and I love that. Having her in homecare until 14 months was amazing for us and she got the one-on-one care I preferred in her infancy. I think having her in this preschool program will get her well prepared for public school down the road.
Also, I know she is in a top-notch learning environment with excellent curriculum and she is learning in different ways. The program she attends is excellent. It’s good for her. I tell myself that every two weeks as I sign that tuition check. Can I get another Amen?
I say all of this to remind myself (and others) that putting my child (and your child) in daycare/preschool isn’t a bad thing. I am not a bad mother for not staying home with her. Even if there are days where I feel like I am as I make that walk of shame down the long hallway early in the morning. I am not a bad mother.
There is a light at the end of the shame tunnel.
At the end of the day, I get to be greeted by a smiling, forgiving, sweaty three-year-old little girl on the playground, who will run into my arms as fast as she can (as fast as anyone can on that rubber mulch) with the biggest toothy smile on her face, calling out “Mommy!” as she trips over her own feet. She will tell me all about her day, show me her drawings, tell me she “cleaned up her centers,” “was the line leader” and “earned a treat.” She will forget about her sadness from earlier that morning and will forgive me for leaving her.
The walk of shame isn’t shameful forever. At 5:00, the walk of shame is transformed into the walk of joy as I escort my precious daughter down the hall of her preschool, her hand in mine, listening to her sweet voice. Hearing about her adventurous day with her friends reminds me that she is in the right place, she is in a good place, and I am not a bad mother for having her outside of the home, even though some mornings I feel downright shameful as she cries for me to not leave her behind.
I am not a bad mother.
And neither are you.
Jessi is the wife to her high school sweetheart Glenn (2007) and mother to Zoey Liz, AKA “Peach” (2010). She is a marketing professional by day and nurturing mother by night, determined to not sacrifice precious motherhood for too much work. A survivor of a rare vasa previa pregnancy and premature birth, Jessi is hoping to grow her family once again and blogs about her hurdles with PCOS and TTC at Life Abundant. You can also follower her on Instagram: mojojesso.