In the beginning, I didn’t have a hard time leaving W in daycare. I know most mothers cry or spend hours watching the daycare nanny cam, but I did not.
Of course, in all fairness, most mothers don’t work right upstairs from their baby, either. Working part-time was great; I would drop him off, work a five-hour shift, pick him up, and head home for cuddles. I was exceptionally fortunate to have bosses who worked with my “mama” schedule; they know how important family is, and how quickly those childhood years are over.
The new job meant changes. A full-time schedule, less cuddle time, but at least I was still in the same building. That alone was a major blessing! Everyone kept telling me I could go upstairs and visit him anytime.
Just one catch with that plan… I have to leave again.
We’ve entered a new phase in the mother/child relationship – separation anxiety. I felt like the biggest jerk the first time he cried as I was leaving. I felt selfish and cruel; all I wanted to do was go back, pick him up, and reassure him I’d never leave. So amidst the reassurances that he was “right upstairs” and I could “visit anytime,” I resisted.
Until the day I didn’t.
I had been strong for three whole days, but Thursday I felt beat up. Holding W would certainly help that ache. His toothy smile – the one only his father and I receive – that’s what I needed.
It was nap time, but he’d yet to fall asleep. I’d timed my entrance poorly, but he was awake! I cuddled him close while the daycare worker asked me questions I barely heard. He was smiling his four-tooth smile just for me, leaning his forehead against mine while he played with my necklace. I began to breathe again, feel whole again, and for the hundredth time that day I was thanking God for this sweet little boy.
I don’t want to put him down. I don’t want to let go.
I felt selfish again. He would cry; he wouldn’t understand. Why was I leaving him? It took all my strength just to hand him over to S, the sweetest daycare worker, and right now, the woman I envied the most. His cries pierced my heart as I hurried from the room, staring at the floor the whole way. I stood outside his room, listening to him cry, sobbing myself.
The Assistant Director hurried to my side to make sure I was okay, and when I returned to my office I had a voicemail from S telling me how quickly my boy had fallen asleep. Not to worry, Mama. He’s just fine!
(We are so incredibly blessed to have such sweet people caring for our boy!)
As the day went on I felt calmer, like I’d been balanced out. I had to remind myself babies don’t hold grudges – they just love. My thoughts were justified the minute I walked into his classroom that evening. He shifted his attention away from the toy he was currently playing with, gave me that sweet toothy grin, and excitedly crawled over to me.