Daycare Jitters Part 2

Four months after we pulled Milo out of daycare that he never went to, I finally found a place I felt comfortable with. They were surprisingly affordable with a student ratio just as small as the most expensive daycare in our area, except I had to provide almost everything but snacks (which, because of Milo's allergies, I also had to take care of).

But more importantly, there was one teacher assigned to Milo, one caregiver my son can trust and run to when he feels upset, scared, hurt or when he needed comforting. So when we decided to finally enroll him, I was so excited for everything he was going to learn, for the friends he was going to make and of course, for the time I will have to myself two days a week, time I never had since he was born.

What I wasn't expecting was the rollercoaster of emotions I had the day before his first day. As I was preparing his lunch, labeling his food containers and fixing his things, I felt a pang of sadness – my baby is going to school! I thought I had 5 more years before I will have to start making lunches.

At the same time, I was also anxious, because he's never been watched by anyone else but me or his dad for a long period, much less a group of strangers. I was scared for him, but I knew that like any adjustment period, this anxiety, too, will pass.

On his first day at daycare, I spent almost an hour with him before we started their recommended "goodbye ritual" – I tell him I'm leaving, say goodbye, give him hugs and kisses, pass him on to his teacher and leave without looking back.

But when I said bye, he immediately climbed out of the bike he was on and said bye to his teacher, not realizing it was HIM I was saying goodbye to. The hardest part of it was stopping myself from looking back as I heard him start to cry and scream because I left him in the arms of his new caregiver.

I watched him from my car where he could not see me. Through the gates, I saw him screaming, crying, fighting to be put down and running to the gate where he last saw me. My heart broke watching him throw a fit, scared and anxious that I left him. I stayed in the car until I couldn't see him anymore, as his teacher carried him and led the other kids back indoors.

Throughout the whole 5 hours he was away from me, I did get some errands done and tried to be productive, all the while thinking about him. How ironic is it that when I was spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with him, I couldn't wait to take a break, but when I finally had the time to myself, he was all I could think of?

After over an hour of leaving him, I called to see how he was. His teacher said he cried on and off, but was fine in general. That was the only call I made, resisting the urge to call every hour to check on him.

Funny how I was counting the hours till I picked him up and saw that he was fine. So when I finally went, I saw him busy playing with toys, sharing them with other kids. The teacher saw me and I gestured to keep quiet, because I wanted to keep observing and didn't want him to see me yet.

She told me he did well on his first day. She said he held on to his teacher's pinky finger, following her wherever she went. He would go play, but periodically looked for her and held on to her finger again. He snacked, ate lunch and even napped, too. And he went exploring around his new territory lugging his lunch bag along – this only familiar thing unexpectedly became his comfort item. I felt relieved that he knew who to turn to for comfort – the plan, to get him to trust that he will be ok away from mom and dad, seems to be working on day 1.

As soon as he saw me, he ran crying, mad at me for leaving him. But after a few seconds of clinging, some hugs and kisses, Milo excitedly showed the toys he's been playing with, the fish in the aquarium, telling me in his baby talk about the new place he will call his second home.

Milo got through his first day in daycare better than I expected. I wish I could say the same for myself. I know there will still be tears in the next days and weeks to come, but those tears will probably be mine. My baby is growing up.

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I’m a new mom and this is my story. I’m sharing with you my moments of joy, tears, excitement, and every other emotion that comes with being a mom, whether you’re a new mom yourself, a veteran mom, a mom-to-be, even a dad-to-be. Learn from my experience, or reminisce about your own. Welcome to this mom’s world!