When my daughter was born, my husband and I had just relocated to northern New Jersey, over an hour and a half away from our jobs. Just 8 days after I squeezed her out of you know where and into the world I found myself on an interview for a position I had always wanted. Miraculously, I was offered the job and went back to work with a very cute under 3 month old at home.
A the time, I had about 2 months to figure out what Savanna would do all day while I am working. I am so lucky to have a mom who is off 2-3 days a week and wants nothing more than to spend that time with Savanna. So now, we just needed to figure out those other few days. I had NO idea how difficult the child care search ordeal was. We looked at day cares, in home day cares, interviewed baby sitters, got desperate and interviewed dogs for God’s sake (jk).
All jokes aside, it wasn’t an easy decision and it didn’t help that my husband and I had no idea what we were doing. We were super lucky to find someone just around the corner from where we were living who was starting an in home day care. It seemed like a great fit so we gave it a whirl. I was a little uneasy at first (mainly because when I showed up to drop Savanna off on the first day, the woman’s house was completely under construction and I had no idea!) but eventually it all worked out and she took amazing care of our daughter.
When Savanna turned 15 months we moved to a new town and began the dreaded child care hunt once again. My parent’s neighbor, who I’ve known forever and has been watching children for just as long, was looking for a job. The Perfect person to fill in on the days grandma was working. Again, she was great and cared so kindly for our daughter, but Savanna was no longer an infant. She was an energetic, constantly moving, jumping and climbing one year old. I felt that she was not gaining anything by staying home every day staring at another lady or the tv.
We started to talk about the big D… you know Day Care. I had felt strongly when Savanna was young about not putting her in a big day care, but now my thoughts were changing. I realized I didn’t really have enough information to make a judgement like that. Besides, she needs to learn and go climb and run circles around other people. So we excitedly enrolled her in a child care center just 5 minutes from my work.
Before her first day, we were able to bring her in for a “trial”. It was more like a “practice” I guess. My husband and I were so prepared for it to be traumatic. “She’s going to freak”, we said “She’s going to cry when we leave” we thought, “She’ll NEVER nap there”. We dropped her off for day care practice bracing ourselves for the flip out… but there were no tears. We told her we were leaving and she picked her head up from a pile of toys to say, “Bye mama, bye dada”. We both looked back as we stepped through the doorway. Nothing. We got to the door and peered back in sure she’d be running after us. Not a Savanna in sight! We got to the car and broke into hysterical laughter realizing we were the psychos making this process so difficult and the ones afraid, not Savanna. I felt so much better knowing she was having fun.
Day 1 of the real day went fine, followed by Day 2. Then we get to day 3. Let’s just say we both were in tears. She cried and didn’t want me to leave, which is totally a normal reaction. However, I began to over think this because she was fine the first 2 days. “Did something happen?” I thought. “She thinks I’m leaving her for good”. Realistically, she most likely began to realize that I leave and she is by herself for a while. I received tons of pictures proving she is happy. My cousin called my as I got in the car and I cried for a while and contemplated just calling out dead.
Day 4. Even worse! Full out melt down. I couldn’t take it. Again she seemed to be happy throughout the day. I do need to say that in the midst of this her teacher was nothing but compassionate and understanding and put up with my pain the ass. I thought she was just really good at her job and picked up on the vibe that I was uneasy, but she told my husband she saw me crying- mom fail.
At this point I realized I need to get a freaking grip. Yea it’s not ideal and I wish I could be home with her but this is not a bad experience. I have a great job and she’s in a great school having so much fun, even more than we would at home. I began to realize that my emotions were getting in the way of what I knew I needed to do for Savanna’s best interest.
So what did I learn? 1. Stay calm and help her stick it out for a while. It is hard, but there has to be some positive learning skill in this that will only make her stronger. 2. It’s not that bad. She’s taken care of, she’s eating, she’s playing. She’s there for the shortest amount of time possible for the child of 2 full time working parents. 3. Let go of control. Sometimes you need let the teacher’s step in and have trust they are acting in your child’s best interest. Of course that comes after asking a million questions and running a few “mom tests”. That’s ok as long as you are letting go of control before it’s too late. 4. Be grateful. Be grateful for the happy pictures, the art projects, the well napped baby at pick up, and all that her experience is doing for the both of you.
This time will be over before I know it and I’ve decided to treasure the tough and the good. Besides, those hugs at pick up are priceless. : )