No more tears at daycare (and I’m a little sad)

Sophie doesn’t cry during daycare drop-off anymore, and Katie’s surprised to feel a little teary about it.

Back in September, when Sophie first started daycare, we braced ourselves for rough mornings — for both Soph and her parents. We’d just spent almost a year in a cocoon where everything revolved around figuring out routines and getting to know each other. We sometimes watch the Brit cartoon Everything’s Rosie in the morning, and I often sing “Everything’s Sophie” during the theme song instead (yes, I’m a dork. No, I’m not worried about it). That’s how the first year felt. And then all of a sudden, we had to figure out how to go back into the world. And Soph seemed to know it, too. She cried every morning when we took her to daycare (not for long, but long enough to break her mom and dad’s hearts a little), and it lasted until just a couple of weeks ago.

And then all of a sudden, she stopped with the waterworks. One morning, she kicked her feet in joy as we took her coat off and she reached out for M, her daycare teacher. Happy noises ensued as Blaine and I inched out the door. Not even a backward glance as she joined the other kids for breakfast (or second breakfast, in Soph’s case; she’s a little like a Hobbit that way). And I was surprised to feel a niggling sadness. My stern inner voice (who always wears business suits and has a very severe bun) said, “Stop it. Stop it right now. You don’t want her to cling to you forever. This is a good sign.” I tried to listen — really, I did — but I thought about it all day that day. The next morning was more of the same. Boots off, coat off, happy little girl ready to play. Not a tear in sight. It has been two weeks, and now it’s the norm.

Don’t misunderstand me: I do not like it when my child cries. I don’t want her to be unhappy at daycare and I would never let on to her that I feel anything but elation at the change in her reaction during drop-off. It just feels something akin to that moment of sadness when I have to pack up more tiny clothes that don’t fit anymore, but in this case it’s more than just physical growth. It’s emotional and intellectual instead.

When we pick her up, she’s always over the moon to see us and I look forward to that minute all day long. But now she speedily crawls away from our outstretched arms to show us a toy or to get a few more minutes of playtime in before facing the dreaded car seat. Shades of things to come, I’m sure. That inner voice is already ramping up for that day, making lists of reprimands when I feel a little sad that she doesn’t want to come home from the playground or wants to go to overnight camp. It’s all good. I know that. It’s just another one of those mommy things, I guess.

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