I know this post is going to come off sounding completely and totally overly dramatic. So I write it with the caveat that I KNOW what I’m about to write about isn’t really a big deal. I KNOW there are worse things than the incident I’m about to recount. So please don’t think I am unaware and lacking all perspective. But the thing is, I’ve got a story to tell. So please bear with me. (Deep breath).
I have frequently written about how fortunate we are to have Annie in a daycare that she loves, most extensively writing about that particular blessing here. Each day when I drop her off she is happy to get out of her car seat, happy to say “Hi” to the ceramic goose just inside the door who is always sporting seasonally-themed attire, happy to walk down the hallway, and happy to get to her classroom and sit down to her breakfast. Most days, she looks up at me, smiles, waves, and says, “Bye! Bye!” – letting me know it is time for me to go and she has this daycare thing down. She has never cried. Has never acted upset. Has never really seemed the slightest bit apprehensive when I turn to go. Most days – in fact, almost all days – she is practically pushing me out of the room. But today was not like the other days.
Because David has most Fridays off and because I had ordered some donuts through a school fundraiser that I thought I could pick up first thing this morning, Annie was ushered to class by both of her parents this morning, instead of just me or just David. In my head, it seemed like a great idea – we could all walk hand-in-hand down the hallway, pointing at butterflies and flowers on the walls, making our leisurely way to her classroom door, where we would drop her off and receive kisses and hugs and pleasant and confident “Bye, bye!”s . In my head, it seemed like a great way to start our Friday and end our week. But that vision in my head? It was wrong.
Instead, the fact that both of us were involved in drop off – and, more to the point, the fact that this was unusual and not her normal drop off routine – totally freaked Annie out. At first, things went kind of like I pictured them. She wanted to be carried down the hall instead of walking down it holding our hands, but that’s no big thing. She wasn’t as willing to sit in her chair once we got in her classroom and clung to me a little instead, but we handled that by sort of waving her cereal bar at her as an enticement and that seemed to work. At first. But just as we turned to walk away, she completely lost it. She didn’t just cry, she screamed. And it took everything in me to keep from crying right along with her, right there in the middle of the classroom. It was like she was being torn away from me (this would be where my overly dramatic storytelling kicks in). She was acting like she thought we would never see each other again. She sounded scared and sad and mad and heartbroken all at the same time. And every fear I ever had before we took her to daycare the first time came flooding back to me. This thing that was happening – this watching my child go to pieces and knowing it was not in her best interest for me to be the one to comfort her – this was what I had feared would happen every day before we first walked the halls of her daycare. This was my working mom nightmare. And it was happening today.
|A happier girl.|
I honestly thought I would walk down the hallway and be able to listen from a safe, out-of-her-eyesight distance to what was going on in her room, find that she was happy and playing, and turn around and go back to my car, undetected and feeling reassured. Again, that’s how it played out in my head. But that’s not what happened. Instead, I walked down the hallway and as I got closer to the corner I would turn down to go to her classroom, I heard crying. Familiar crying. My daughter’s crying. I almost convinced myself to turn back around and leave. I knew it wouldn’t help her to see me, wouldn’t do any good in making her feel comfortable where she was, would, in fact, only make things worse for her – and for her teacher. I even knew it wouldn’t help me to see her again so upset, to not be able to calm her completely before leaving again. But what did I do? Oh, I walked straight into that classroom, where my baby girl lunged for me from her seat at the tiny table, growing redder-faced upon seeing me there, shrieking her displeasure at me having been gone. It. Was. Heartbreaking. And I felt like an idiot. What was I doing there?
Eventually, I knew I had to go. I had to let her straighten this out on her own. I had to let her teacher work her magic and distract my daughter…and remind her that every other day over the last year she has loved it there. There was nothing I could do to help her, short of fleeing from the building with her, which wouldn’t have been the healthiest of options…for anyone. And it was hard. So hard to walk away from her while she screamed. Did I mention she was actually screaming? Not just crying a little? But I knew I had to do it. For her. And for me.
As you, of course, probably suspected, when I called her school an hour or so later (which was her teacher’s suggestion) she was completely back to normal. She was, in fact, participating in her favorite activity these days – pretending to vacuum the classroom floor. She had sorted things out…and her teachers had undoubtedly helped her. And I felt a million percent better. But I also felt silly and ridiculous and overly emotional. I felt like I had failed in the being a reasonable and responsible mother department. And I was reminded that, while I no longer worry that I’m doing something wrong in this whole mommy thing, I don’t have it all figured out and I’m not always holding it together either. But I also know I never really will have all the answers. I never really will be able to act appropriately and not emotionally at all times. I won’t always be able to convince the mama instinct to quiet down a little and listen to my brain.
But that’s okay. Because days like today – moments when Annie and I are both falling apart – just serve as reminders of how nice it is that this is not our version of normal at daycare. That nightmare that I feared when I went back to work – that paranoia I had that every day would be like today was – well, it isn’t our reality. And for that I am once again abundantly grateful. I had no idea how grateful until today.
I'll close with a couple more pictures from our week...
I'll close with a couple more pictures from our week...
|Baths are still always a big hit. When I tell her I am going to start her bath, she follows me into the bathroom now.|
|After a rough morning, she rebounded and had a great day - capped off by a dinner out with Mommy and Daddy.|