Hating It

Oh, what a week since Wesley starting day care part time last Monday. The people there are lovely; the facilities are lovely. Last Friday, a man came in to play the guitar for the children. Tomorrow, they’ll get to ride a train around the courtyard. Wednesdays are splash days. And still, and still – I hate it. I hate it all. I hate this choice I’ve had to make for career, and money, and life. I hate that our baby clings to us and cries as we drop him off each morning thus far. I hate watching him on camera aimlessly wandering that room. I hate that on Friday, upon my arrival, he was again crying. How hopelessly tired he was – and how he then refused to nap. How his night sleep has been disturbed beyond recognition. How yesterday at pick up time, I found him in a corner, by himself, with his cloth diaper lovey draped over his head. How this morning I may have only imagined him saying “no school,” or perhaps not, as he began to cry before even leaving the house in Craig’s arms. How this afternoon, I found him in a different corner, on the slide, going up and down, up and down near another child. He’s fine, finally, I thought. And then discovered that the baby I brought home was like a shadow of my Wesley, almost listless and undeniably – well – sad.

“Today I was happy,” they write on his little sheets each day. And I don’t know, is it a lie? “He did much better today,” they tell me. He hasn’t thrown more fits when asked to climb up to the sink and wash his hands, as he did the first day, then refused to eat his lunch. He’s no longer having complete meltdowns when it’s time to change his diaper. He made it through the day today without his pacifier and lovey, cheap substitutes for ourselves. And still, and still.

I can’t decide which was/is harder: the grueling semester I pulled this spring, spending my days with Wesley, squeezing in grading during nap times and late nights and most weekends, rushing off to teach at night only to return after he was long in bed — or putting my baby in strangers’ care. Maybe I just simply made a bad decision. Maybe I should have chosen to keep that old schedule up a few more months, a few more years. Maybe there’s a reason kids don’t start school until much older. Maybe it’s perfectly “normal” nowadays to have to place our children in day care, but not entirely natural. Maybe other children do better, younger ones, older ones, less sensitive ones, ones who don’t well up with tears when they hear the neighbor child crying or when they watch a cartoon where a pet rooster has to be given away.

And so I hate it. We all hate it, I think, all of us who do this. Even the mothers who put on good faces and tell you it gets better, that soon when you come to pick them up, they won’t even want to leave, who try to sell you on that bullshit that it’s harder on you than it is on them. Oh, it’s been hard on me. But it’s been brutal on my Wesley, my fragile son, my baby.


6 thoughts on “Hating It

  1. Ugh. That post makes my stomach ache. My daughter is only 7 months old and she was in a family run daycare from 3 months to 6.5 months old. I got a new job, double the salary, so we moved last week and now my husband will take a 50-75% pay cut so he can telecommute part-time and stay home with our daughter.

    My daughter seemed to like daycare. She loved watching all the kids run around. When I would drop her off, she’d willingly go to the providers. When I picked her up, she’d be happy and smiling- until she saw me- then she’d cry for me to hold her.

    However, it wasn’t the same. She’d be messy- sticky hands, Cheerios dried on her clothes, a bottom that wasn’t 100% clean. And there were other things.

    So even though it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t the same. And I am so relieved that she’ll be with her dad all day- who’s probably more meticulous and careful in his care of her than me! However, I’m really jealous. I want to be able to be with her all day. But I’m the one with the degree and the earning potential, so this is how it is- and I’m lucky.

    My heart breaks for you and Wesley. I know it is true that it will get better- he’ll adjust and get used to the new routine. Imagine the adjustment going from mommy and me all day to a place with lots of kids and lots of people and lots of activity and a schedule, etc. I’m sure there’s a culture shock of sorts when all you’ve known is turned on its ear.

    I’ll say a prayer for Wesley that he adjusts and thrives in his new situation. And I’ll say a prayer for you and your husband that you have peace with your decisions, and the strength to make those decisions you know are best for your family- even if they are hard.

  2. Well, my dear. My heart aches for you. I assure you that I do know the turmoil that you are in. I went back to full time for two weeks after Ryan was three months old. Richard and I would meet at the daycare, for lunch every single day. Most days he would be sleeping, but still, we met for our ½ hour of time. This would then be followed by half an hour of crying. I just couldn’t do it. I literally couldn’t do it. We had to make the decision to cut our income in half—and a career that I worked many years to achieve. Yet, I know today that it was the best decision to make for us. I ended up working nights and weekends (part time) to make it work. Richard would meet me at work at 5:30 and we would do the “baby pass off”, if you will, in the parking lot  It wasn’t easy or ideal, but it’s what we felt was right for us. You guys have a very strong and bonded threesome. You will figure it out I assure you. Time has a way of making decisions more clear. I know that everyone’s situation is not the same, nor are the circumstances. I can only offer you my insight and experiences. Trust your heart…that’s what I had to struggle the most with. Anyway, I am sending you all lots of love and hugs your way.

  3. I feel for you. I really do. Perhaps i’m alittle tougher emotionally than Aaron and perhaps since I have gotten use to taking Sofia to daycare everyday since i started work a year ago that I already had this idea of how her days will be and how she will be. We were very fortunate for a long amount of time how Sofi was oblivious with me leaving every morning. Now that she’s in the 2 year olds, she wants to hold me and doesn’t want to let me go. These are the days that I feel your frustration. I have to leave her in tears or else I’m late for work! What I do know about Sofi is that after 10 minutes or so she get’s over it because she has a lot of interaction with the other kids and the toys that are there. This will pass. The teachers are already telling you he’s doing better…and it only gets better from here. Even if you waited longer to put him in or even older, the same result will still happen. I do hope things get better for Wesley. It is normal to take your kids to daycare, it’s natural to feel upset leaving them there but it’s a part of life for the working class! Some one us have no choice but to have them at daycare. Think of it this way, he will be a social child in no time! Besos y Abrasos para todos! Chin up! 😀

  4. My heart aches for you. It really really does.

    I am one of those mothers who put on good faces, but daycare is hard on us and it’s hard on my little guy too. He’s exhausted by the end of the week even though he’s happy as a clam where he is and gets excellent care. He’s exhausted, we’re exhausted, we’re running on fumes – the whole bunch of us. But my having a career is important to us and it makes me a better mother. I am a better mother because I get time away from my son, time to do other things, time to appreciate him and our time together. When that is no longer the case, we’ll readjust as necessary. You have to do what’s right for your family and what’s best for your little guy. As you noted, the odds are stacked against women, but saying “it’s not fair” isn’t going to change anything. I like to think that you and I are making it easier for the next generation of women to balance careers and family. That makes getting through the tough days a little easier.

  5. Aw, honey. What a painful thing to watch as a parent. I’m sure Wes will adjust and be fine, but it doesn’t make the process any less painful.

    And I have NO advice to give, since our girl has never even had a babysitter. She freaks out if we’re not in sight at all times. I’ve tried to push it a little bit, with her grandparents or with stepping out while she’s in a familiar place, but the experiments have not gone well. Realistically we can’t afford a babysitter anyway — the other side of the harsh choice between staying home and working — so we haven’t pushed it. But my heart goes out to you. Good luck to you all!

  6. Lou. I cried when I read this, even though I already knew what a difficult time you and Wes were having. Just picturing him sitting in a corner with his little blankie/lovey over his head breaks my heart. And of course, as you know, I’ve been dealing with the same feelings of guilt and sadness over the past couple of weeks for the same reasons. YES, I DO agree that putting our babies in others’ care feels unnatural, despite the fact that it’s common and socially acceptable. It still feels wrong. Even though Keith and I decided to change Finn’s school after the first week and initiated the new transition a bit differently by staying by his side the first few days while he got used to new people and surroundings, and by doing our best to show him that we trust these teachers and LOVE this school, and even though Finn seems to enjoy it there as the day goes on, he still fiercely cries and screams when we leave, and I still do my own share of crying. I’m terrified of how he’ll be when I leave him for even longer stretches once I go back to work. The truth is that he will be scared. Like Wesley, Finn is very sensitive, and very frightened of strangers. But he will also be better socialized, make friends, learn new things from new people. He needs more stimulation than he had last year. As I sat in his classroom those days last week, I watched other little ones enter the room smiling, happy to start the school day. THAT is what I look forward to.
    Wesley will get there, too. He has wonderful parents who love him, and you selected this school with care. Remember that. This is hard, yes… for us but even more for our boys. But they will grow stronger, and they will be okay. They will be happy.
    Hugs to both of you.

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