Posted on | February 1, 2011 | 15 Comments

I love my son’s daycare.  I want to say that first because I don’t want my current fears and anxieties to be, in any way, a reflection of the place that provides his care.  I think they do a wonderful job and he is so happy there that he grabs his coat and waits at the door when I tell him it’s time for school.

So it’s clear that they are doing a great job and the current crazy that is haunting my brain is not a product of poor care so much as it is a product of, well, crazy.  But the thing is, it occurred to me recently that I don’t  know what happens to my child for over 40 hours a week.

I think it’s the biggest challenge that working mothers face.  Especially us working mothers who already struggle with anxiety.  We take our tiny child, our child who grins up at us and says “momma!” with such enthusiasm that it takes our breath away, and we leave them in the care of others.  We leave them to face the world, knowing that we will return to get them and have absolutely no idea what happened to them while we were away.

Did he get his feelings hurt?  Did he hurt someone’s feelings?  Did some bigger kid knock him down or steal his toy?  Did he not like his lunch?  God forbid did someone physically hurt him?  Did they yell at him?  I’ll never know.  Because for another year or so, he can’t tell me what happened to him during the day.

Sure, I can ask him, but he normally just says the name of his best friend on repeat.  I can look at the sheet the daycare provides, but it only tells me when he pooped and what he ate for lunch.  It doesn’t tell me if he cried when he realized I wasn’t there after nap time.  It doesn’t tell me if he wanted to be held and there was no one there to hold him.  It doesn’t tell me if he was happy.

And I struggle with that.  I struggle with the knowledge that for so much time during the week, I have no control over who comes in contact with my child.  I can’t instruct the teacher to blow raspberries on the spot under his ear everytime she picks him up or to grab his shoe and say “Nononononon!” if he starts to undo the velcro because it cracks him up.  I have to rely on the fact that they will take the best  care of him that they can. 

And I’d be lying if I said it’s awesome.  It sucks.  There are eight or nine other kids in his class.  If they are all sad, there will be seven kids who aren’t immediately comforted.  If they all fall down, seven will lie there for a few moments.  I struggle with that.  I want my kid picked up first.  I want my kid comforted immediately.  I want my kid cared for … by me.

I know that he’s in a good place.  I know that he’s being taken care of and fed and loved.  But it doesn’t make it any easier to leave him when he’s crying.  It doesn’t make my heart stop skipping a beat when I think about what might happen to him without me there.  But still I leave him.

Because I have to.


15 Responses to “Daycare”

  1. Toni
    February 1st, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

    ::hugs:: I can’t imagine the anxiety you deal with, because I have bad anxiety and my son is with family every day. I still wonder whether they listen to my instructions, or do what they want. Whether he’ll like them more than me. However, I am very grateful for the fact that I have them to watch him.

    I think the only way for us to be at ease, would be to stay at home. And obviously, that’s not an option for me either.

    Sorry – this probably doesn’t make sense. I just want to let you know that I sympathize with the whole working mom thing and I hope it gets easier for us at some point?

  2. Diana @Hormonal Imbalances
    February 1st, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

    I usually never comment on working mom posts because anything I say feels totally inadequate. But this hurt my heart a little for you. 🙁

    I understand 1/100000th of what you are going through just because we have to find someone a few hours a week when Sam leaves so I can maintain my sanity. I’ve tried to talk myself out of it to avoid leaving Bella with a stranger, but the fact is – I can’t do 24-7 for 18 weeks to avoid that.

    But of course mine is optional, it isn’t full time, it’s going to be in my home – so I don’t know that part of it you have to go through.

    I can tell you that having worked in a daycare (with 30 kids at a time), the good ones really do their best to make the kids happy, to spend some time with them one on one, to figure out little things they love. I always tried to make it a point to give a short, personal run down of each child’s day to the parent – is there someone there that would be ok doing that with you?


  3. Andrea @arrrj
    February 1st, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    I hate not knowing what goes on at daycare. Like you, I generally just know if he had a good day or bad day, what he ate, and diaper counts. Last week his sheet said that he was in timeout a lot for throwing toys. Has he been in timeout there before? How many times? Does he throw toys often? And then I don’t ask because I don’t want to come off like “that mom” who is overprotective and doesn’t trust them.

  4. Melonie S
    February 1st, 2011 @ 4:21 pm

    Being a working mom is not what you expected. Being an attorney mom is not easy. I think work-life balance is a myth. It is HARD to drop your kids off with strangers (okay, not strangers, but not family) and trust it will be okay. I’ve been doing it for over 4 years now, since my oldest was 3 months old. With my daughter, it was even harder because she has a complicated health history. Yet, I’ve been doing it, going to work, and we all are surviving. It helps that I love our child care providers.

    It does get a little easier when the kids are older and can tell you a little bit more, but it still is HARD. I’m not there. I’m not teaching them. I’m not seeing the lightbulb go off (well, I do, but not as frequently). Other people get to enjoy the dancing in the middle of the day. It just helps me remember what is truly important and I concentrate on those moments more when I get to spend them with my babies. Both of my parents worked full time when I was young and I remember spending time with them. I don’t remember disliking them because they were gone and we were at a babysitter. I hope my kids will remember our times together in the same light.

    Hugs to you.

  5. KLZ
    February 1st, 2011 @ 4:57 pm

    Alex has the flu. I’d rather be cleaning up his puke than working right now. That says something about motherhood.

  6. Liz
    February 1st, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

    Being a working mom is such a struggle. Our daycare provides us with webcam access during the day. I’ve had to limit myself to checking on C once a day. I know if I could, I would keep the window open all day to watch and make sure she is being cared for in a way that I would like. I find that being able to watch just stresses me out more. I know they are doing a good job, but what if I think she cries too long? What if 6 babies are crying and they can’t get to her immediately? I wouldn’t change being a working mom, because for me it’s what is best, but it totally sucks.

  7. The BabbyMama
    February 1st, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

    Reading this makes my heart hurt. I may be putting my daughter into daycare for the first time (she’s just going on 2). I don’t know how I’m going to handle it without being a mess, but I’m having mucho trouble handling working with her here and finding enough work to get by. I’m praying that we find a workable solution that doesn’t involve my working outside of the house, but who knows…

  8. Stephanie
    February 1st, 2011 @ 9:34 pm

    I absolutely hate leaving my son with my mom who loves him more than her own life so I can’t even imagine the anxiety you have leaving him at Daycare. Hugs to you and an understanding smile! Working full time is totally for the birds but someone has to make money to feed the birds…

  9. Crystal
    February 1st, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

    Ah hun. I know what that feeling is like…I do. I get to be home now with the 4 boys…but it hasn’t always been that way. Of course you want them to love where they go…but even that is a double-edged sword, because part of you really wants them to only want you. THe same with “not knowing” exactly what is going on with them every moment of the day…is every boo-boo kissed, is every hurt feeling addressed, what is they are feeling they comfort them right away? I’m sorry that you have to be conflicted over this. What a hard emotion…I can totally understand the anxiety.

  10. Jessica D Torres
    February 2nd, 2011 @ 5:57 am

    It is hard to be a working mom and drop your child off at daycare each day. I worked full time until my oldest daughter was 6. At least your child is in a good daycare and he has friends that he gets to play with everyday.

  11. Adrienne
    February 2nd, 2011 @ 7:29 am

    Oh, I know this fear. So, so well.

    I also know this: your son’s caregivers have their own special relationships with him. Silly little jokes that they know will make him laugh, or special things they do to comfort him.

    If they give you a good feeling, then they are doing those things. You wouldn’t feel comfortable with them if they hadn’t created their own relationships with your little boy.

    And I know that doesn’t take away one tiny bit of your pain and fear about dropping off your baby everyday, but I wanted to tell you anyway. 😉

  12. Della
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 12:01 am

    I know it is hard, but Adrienne is right. Before law, I worked in daycare. And you definitely know the good ones. I got very attached to “my babies”. I knew them. I cared fir them. I played with them, I disciplined them, and I LOVED them. It has been 12 years since then and I have three kids of my own now, and I still think about them. And wonder how they are doing. I am still friends with some of the girls I worked with and I know that they feel the same way. And they won’t all fall down at the same time.
    And if you didn’t feel this way, you wouldn’t be normal. So hugs to you and your little guy. And it does get better.

  13. Lindsey
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:13 am

    Just wandered across you on Twitter, and your name caught my attention since I’m also a full-time lawyer mom. (I also spent some time at UNC, actually… the not so wonderful law school years).

    I probably should write a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while, about why I DO feel good about sending my kids to daycare. (Actually, I wrote a version of it at one point, but I could probably say some more general things). I feel secure in the fact that I outsource some parenting time, that I pay someone to do some of the heavy lifting and, as my kids get older, the educating. These folks are professionals and there are things they do with my kids that I can’t do as well. It doesn’t bother me, since that’s always going to be true.

    And I know they smile when they go there. Even before they could tell me what they did during the day, they giggled when their teachers made faces at them in the morning and didn’t cry when I set them down (except for the usual separation anxiety phase… and even then, they’d usually go to their favorite teacher).

    And they come home pooped out and (now that they’re older) with stories to tell and art to show. I can hug them and enjoy them and hear about it and have some fun downtime. I just know if I was with them all day, it wouldn’t be all hugs and cuddles and fun moments. There would be more discipline, more annoyances, more getting irritated with each other, more yelling, and more boredom. When we’re all doing our own thing during the day, we appreciate each other more at night.

    Sorry for the novel… but I’ve definitely walked in your shoes. I went back to work full-time when each of my (three) kids was 6 weeks old. And the longer removed I get from that, the happier I am with the decisions I’ve made about it and the prouder I am of having worked AND managed to turn out neat kids who love me a lot.

    (And definitely couldn’t do it without a good daycare.)

  14. Mae
    February 4th, 2011 @ 2:04 am

    1. The webcam rocks. I highly recommend it.
    2. You didn’t mention another resource for finding out what he did with his day: Ask his teachers.

    I spend at least 5 minutes in the morning at drop off in the room getting P settled (or not. If there are puzzles out when we get there she frankly doesn’t have that much interest in me anymore!) and talking to her morning teachers who aren’t there anymore when I pick up but are with her until about 4 o’clock, how she was the day before. Did she listen well, is she playing with her friends nicely, what language are they using when they work on taking turns/keeping hands to ourselves/inside voices/whatever(so I can say it the same way at home, or help them understand what she’s used to hearing from us that she might respond better to if she’s struggling to behave) and who she’s getting along with or not getting along with. What her favorite part of the day was yesterday and if she had trouble sleeping.

    It sounds like rapid fire 20 questions but it’s not. I have conversations with my child’s caregivers because I don’t just want them to know her, I want to know them.

    Miss Althea is from Trinidad and has two kids who spend the summers back there with their dad. They’re too old for the toys in the happy meals now so when she takes them to McDonalds they give her their toys to bring in to daycare “for the babies”. Miss Ashley is getting married in October and wants to be a kindegarten teacher but has to wait until her fiance finishes school before they can afford for her to go back full time so right now she’s getting her AA at night. Miss Jessica has a party planning business on the side and helps her mom out at the farmer’s market in the summers.

    5 minutes of my day. It’s like having a 30 minute conversation by the end of the week. I consider absolutely no question about MY CHILD to be off limits. I have never asked anything that they batted an eye at answering and if they had I would have gone straight to the director. I have been told that the other parents rarely ask any questions at all. I cannot for the life of me understand why not.

    I highly recommend it. If you feel uncomfortable ask yourself what part of your son’s day you don’t feel you have the right to know more about. Then ask whatever the hell you want.

  15. Marlo
    February 6th, 2011 @ 2:53 am

    Thank you for this. This is my first time on your blog (courtesy of RFML) and my son is 4 months old. I went back to work January 3 (I teach high school) and I managed not to cry, because he seemed happy when I left him and the ladies in the baby room were totally charmed by my little guy. The day he cries when I leave… well, that’s going to be another story. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

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