To the new parents at daycare:
I can’t tell you how my heart broke for you this morning at your very first drop-off. Your 12-week old looks so small, and is still so needy. He can’t hold his head up or speak or understand that you’ll be back. I know it was hard for you to hand him over to the teacher, and I saw you fighting tears. I fought them myself.
Because there is something so deep and soulful about that first day of daycare. With the wisdom of three months experience, I can tell you that it won’t go away completely — those butterflies and painful stab in the heart you feel when you turn toward the exit — but it will get easier. And there are a million little things that will make a difference.
You’ll soon see that your son will develop at a rapid pace, starting with push-ups (yay for tummy time!) and then rolling and cooing and oh, boy, will you be proud. The teachers celebrate every milestone, too, and instead of making you feel separate, they include you in those celebrations.
Artwork for your walls — you’re going to get daily additions. You’ll laugh because really, how is a 3-month-old who can’t sit up painting? But you’ll be so thankful for that connection.
Phone calls and notes from the teachers about funny moments, or about concerns — here they come! The staff will remember that you are the mom and dad and that they are just the sacred guardians for a few short hours and they won’t take the decisions away from you. I’m not saying there won’t be battles – there will be, and you will question yourself even more deeply those days – but they will be great sources of information and of discussion on all things baby.
And the highlight? You will appreciate every single moment that you have with your son, as well as every single moment that you’re away. You will run to the door at pick-up, ready for the drooling and babbling and nap strikes and blowouts because you know how lucky you are to have them in your life at all. You will miss your baby, and find yourself thinking about him in every meeting, during every commute and, frankly, every hour of every day. But you will know that he is safe and well and will love you with all of his heart.
I hope you both had a good day at work. I’m sorry you’re back sooner than you wanted to be, mom, and I know you’ll have a few dark moments this week as you wonder if you made the right decision. I hope you find some peace — I’ll be wishing it for you — and I hope that when I see you tomorrow, there are more smiles than tears.
Hang in there, new parents at daycare. It’s rough. But it will be OK.
Formerly new parents at daycare