The first days of daycare

Blaine’s back to work, and Katie reflects on Sophie’s first daycare drop-off.

Photo: vladacanon/iStockphoto.com

Well, we’ve done it. We’ve broken out of the cozy cocoon of maternity/parental leave — a sort of suspended reality of mid-day and midnight walks, no time to eat followed months later by trips to the coffee shop on nice days, afternoon naps and stacks of board books — and we’re back to our regular life. Or what we now know as life. It’s drastically different from the life we knew before, as happens when you introduce a whole new family member to the mix.

It has been eight working days since Blaine’s return to work and Soph’s introduction into the world of daycare. We did some transition days (a few hours here and there) in the weeks leading up to the big change-over, hoping to make Soph familiar with her new friends in order to make the first days easier, but it’s not the same as leaving her for an entire day. Even now, as I type this, I clutch thinking about the eight or so hours I’m away from her today. Our editor-in-chief Karine told me yesterday that she all of a sudden missed her kids like mad — and her kids age from 6 to 11 — so I guess it never goes away. (In fact, I suspect my mom still feels the same and her youngest is 24.)

I tried not to tear up as I dressed our wee girl in her “back-to-school” outfit (Nonna bought school clothes for her granddaughters despite the fact that two of the three aren’t in school) on that first day, but there was no stopping it when we got to daycare and I handed over her knapsack. Soph held it together for the multitude of hugs and kisses, but Blaine and I were both completely overwhelmed when we got in the car and that little face waved to us from the window. I’ve decided already that I will not think about her going to university or college until she gets accepted, because if I have to think for the next 17 years about that little girl waving goodbye and living somewhere else, I will become captain of the helicopter mamas. And, trust me, we don’t need to indulge my tendency to hover.

We got lucky with our daycare, though. It’s a small centre, with only seven kids, and the staff are wonderful. The owner tracks each kid’s activities and emails a daily report (she also sends pictures once in a while, which completely makes my day. And sometimes makes me cry, but I pretend that my non-existent allergies are bothering me if anyone asks). It’s really helpful when we’re trying to figure out why she’s rubbing her eyes at 5:30 p.m. or why she doesn’t want as much supper — maybe naptime wasn’t as long as usual or she was hungry late in the day and had a snack. I’ve realized that you come to rely on the people who spend their days with your child to fill in the blanks. Like I’ve said before, that village just keeps on growing. It warms my heart in a big way to see the smile on Soph’s face when we get to daycare in the morning. Nary a tear most days (well, from Sophie anyway).

Of course after almost two weeks, she’s already caught a cold and missed one day. That’s a whole other blog post — the daycare back-up plan. I hear kids in daycare are destined to pass sickness around, for at least the first little while, so we’ve stocked up on all the sick baby essentials. Too bad the sniffles have passed to Soph’s parents, too. Welcome back to the real world, eh?

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