We’re almost done with our son’s second week of daycare. Things are getting better. He doesn’t cry as hard, or long, when my daughter and I leave in the morning. He’s more excited to see his “friends” when he gets to school. He doesn’t spend all morning saying he wants to go to the park or the “backy-yard.” He’s still pretty grumpy in the early hours, but the whole thing feels manageable.
My husband is still getting used to getting himself ready with our son around and I’m still getting used to picking up two kids up from two different care providers (in the increasing darkness), but we’re both finding our grooves. I feel a lot of stress about how late I’m picking up the second kid, but I’m trying to let that guilt go, and I try really hard to pick each of them early once a week.
Last week was definitely hard on my husband and I, harder than either of us anticipated. We didn’t expect the ambivalence we felt about leaving our child in a group care setting. We figured we’d done all this before–at the same day care and with the same teachers!–surely this would not be much of an issue. We assumed we could side step our own emotional reckonings after three years processing these feelings with our first child.
Well, we were wrong. We did have emotional reckonings to deal with, and they were pretty intense. It turns out that just coming to terms with sending our first child to day care for the majority of her waking hours didn’t excuse us from the pain, guilt, and regret of sending our second child as well. The rose colored glasses we were viewing our past experience through didn’t help either.
And there are other factors complicating it. The fact that my daughter is now in Kindergarten, and I could be at home with just my son, for a large portion of the school day, transforms the idea of staying home into an enticing proposition. Two kids at home I can’t really handle, but one? That I could do. I might even enjoy doing it.
It doesn’t help that I’m as unenthusiastic about my job as I’ve ever been. I can’t shake the feeling that what I teach doesn’t even matter; it’s hard to feel like what I’m doing with my days is meaningful.
But being with my son would be meaningful. He’s my last child, and I want to soak up these final years of him being deliciously little. Instead I barely see him for two waking hours a day, and I spend those hours ferrying him from one nonnegotiable task to another. The only still, quite moments I get with him are the 15 minutes right before bedtime. It’s not enough.
But it has to be, because without uprooting our lives entirely, and moving away from our families, I have to work. Right now I have absolutely no say in the matter.
So yeah, this transition has been harder on me than I expected, though I did predict it would lay me out in ways I couldn’t foresee. I guess I just didn’t anticipate how intensely the wind would be knocked out of me when I went down.
Oh my sweet, sweet boy. I wish we could play in the backy-yard too.