To Daycare We Go

We’ve been lucky in that since I returned to work last May, Nellie’s caretakers have been either family or close friends. In the beginning, we alternated between my mother in law and Josh (he worked 12 hour shifts and had days off in the middle of the week). That worked out well until Josh’s Nana got sick, and my MIL had to drop out as caretaker for a while.

Then Josh lost his job, and pretty quickly got another one but this time it was a Monday through Friday, 7 to 3:30 gig. Which left us with my mother in law, who could only watch her about two days a week. Luckily, my friend Michelle stepped in and agreed to watch Nellie three days a week. I was excited for Nellie to have someone with such great experience with kids watching her, plus she’d have the added bonus of a playmate in Michelle’s son Liam.

Things worked out pretty well despite the fact that I wasn’t getting a lot of hours in at work. As tends to happen when you rely on people and not facilities to care for your children, I had to miss days of work for sickness, doctor’s appointments, prior engagements, etc and as a result my paychecks were light. We put Nellie on a few daycare waiting lists and the other day, one called and told us there was an opening. I excitedly set up an appointment for the very next day (I was off work anyway) and Nellie and I headed down in the morning to check the place out.

I stayed with Nellie for a while in her classroom until it was time to fill out paperwork. She played with the other kids while I signed the necessary forms a hundred and eighty times, ate lunch with the kids and then we headed home for a nap. As I watched her interact with the other children I realized that she has a lot to learn. Nellie’s not used to having to share time and attention with that many other children, and she’s also not used to a day so structured. She’s going to have to learn to share her toys, to let others play with her, and to interact with other children. She’s going to have to learn to sit still when she’s eating (a habit we have not enforced at home; we let her roam when she eats) and is going to need to cooperate when it’s time to wash hands, sit for a drink, lay down for a nap.

I’m excited but I’m nervous. Not for her safety but for the transition. It’s a big change not only for her but for myself and Josh as well. I’m entrusting her to people I don’t know for the first time. Not only that, but the atmosphere of this daycare is very school-like, so enrolling her here feels suspiciously like her first steps toward preschool, kindergarten, etc. Which makes me all sorts of teary-eyed when I think about it. Right now it’s just labeled sippy cups, diapers and blankies to worry about but before I know it it’ll be pencils, backpacks and crayons.

Just another part of the constant process of letting go that begins with that cord being cut, I guess. *sniff*