Today, I am callin’ it as I see it, no sugar-coatin’. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, the state I am in just plain sucks. And because I notice that ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids, we have a hard time admitting when things are less than ideal. And I get it, it’s way more fun to post a pic of their toothy little grins with captions like, “First day of school smiles!”. But that isn’t always real life and we know it. So here on this little space of mine, I am going to keep it honest, as I always try to do.
I sometimes call it “pre-school” because well, that sounds better. And I know they color a picture or two, do a worksheet, glance at a flashcard – but when your 3.5 year old is there for more than 2 hours…sorry but that’s daycare. No way around it.
Clara started going half-days, 3 days a week a couple of weeks ago and the decision was NOT easy. Apparently I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I would have loved for Clara to attend one of the more bougie places near our office but doling out $1,700+ a month just is not in the cards for us. We were challenged with striking the right balance of finding a place that was somewhat close by, reasonably clean, had A.C, would take her not fully potty trained, had qualified staff, and of course, was within our budget. So we toured some places, thought more about it, and decided we needed to just pick something, try it out, and see what happens.
Well, here’s what happened.
Morning of her first day – out of a movie. All smiles. Backpack on. Front porch pic.
We dropped her off with no problem at all, except for the fact that as soon as we walked out I began to ugly cry.
I composed myself before getting into the office and the hustle and bustle at work proved to be a great distraction until we received this text in the late morning.
And you know, because I am dramatic and have a sizable anxiety disorder, I did not take this news well. May as well tell me the Titanic went down again, or Tom Hanks died. I immediately started to panic and wanted to go pick her up but her Grandma was already slated to be there in an hour and they said she was having fun.
As soon as pickup time rolled around, I anxiously awaited the text from Grandma. I was hoping to hear that she ended up having the best day ever. Then I heard my phone go off and opened the message to see this photo:
MY HEART. My stomach sank down through the floor and I swear I blacked out momentarily (ok I am being a tad dramatic here, but I am painting a picture). Luckily for me, I work with both my BFF and my husband and they immediately reminded me that she is a covid kid, who needed a structured environment with other kids. That this is good for her. Daycare just kicked her a** but she is ok. I knew she also had fun, socialized, and laughed. I knew she needed this.
I guess what I did not know is…this would be the hardest EFFING thing I’ve ever had to do.
I try to repeat calming daycare mantras to myself when I feel the sadness welling up in my throat. “She is only there half-days”, “It’s only 3 days a week.”, “This is good for her.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Alllll I want to do is go get her. I want to scoop her up and never let her go. I want to do each and every hard thing for her. I want to be the one to trip and fall and scrape my face instead. I want to shield her, hold her, protect her.
But like duhhhhhhhh I know I have to let her fall. And struggle. And experience hardship. And worse yet, if I don’t – she will turn out all messed up. I guess kids are kinda like soufflés in a way, there are periods where you just have to let them be. And as much as you want to check on them, baby them to be sure everything is going well, you can’t or else it ruins the outcome. More than anything I want Clara to be a strong, capable, badass – and if I follow my instincts I might rid her of those qualities.
As I have stated before, I learn so much each and every day not only about parenting and my kids, but more than anything about myself. And life. How much perspectives can change. I learn how much I don’t know. How much I will never know.
*Insert Jonie Mitchell’s, “Both Sides Now” (world’s greatest song)*
You choose to bring a kid into the world and you have to keep it alive by doing everything for it. Then it grows and instinctively starts to walk, run, talk, etc. It no longer needs you as much. For me, this is SO hard to swallow. I feel cheated, like I wasn’t warned. Sometimes I feel like I am expected to just be OK with the changes that happen as she gets older, but
most of the time all of the time, I need a minute. To feel the loss, to try and appreciate and accept the change. (deep breath) I can get there.
To get back to our story, David and I left work that afternoon and I got home to my tired little lass.
I basically did not want to let her go until she was struggling out of my arms. I also inspected her scrapes and her knee actually took the brunt of it. Kids are so resilient, man. Look at the smile on her little scraped up mug.
Since her first day, we’ve had good and bad days. Mornings where she cries, clings to my legs, and says “Mommy take me home!”. And then just today when David dropped her off, she said “Daddy you can leave” and she plopped right down and started playing.
(another deep breath)
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all