Two weeks ago I started back to work. It was just as, if not more gut wrenching to leave my kids at daycare than it was the first time around. I thought I would be able to waltz right into the daycare, say my goodbyes and walk out with any tears. That’s funny isn’t it?!
As I walked in my oldest to his classroom I could already feel the lump in my throat forming. “Keep it together” I thought to myself, “Don’t let him (Deacon) know something is wrong.” I did my absolute best not to cry when I dropped off Deacon. He is a very sensitive boy and if he saw me crying, I feared that he would think something was wrong, attach onto me and never let go—which, would make the process even more difficult! Deacon kept going to school while I was on maternity leave, but I did keep him home two days a week so he could spend time with me and his little brother. Knowing that time was over, I was sad that I was going to have to say goodbye to the wonderland I’d been apart of for the last 10 weeks and embrace the reality and the need that both Doug and I need to be working in order to support our family. I gave him a tight squeeze, teared up (only a little) and said, “I’ll see you after school, sweetie-you be a good boy, okay?” Deacon said, “Yeah, mommy I’ll be good….Oh and mommy, I’ll check on Cohen, okay?!” I said, “I really like that idea, Deacon-you can be mommy’s helper!”
I turned around stepped out of his classroom and walked down the hallway to Cohen’s room. I shuffled my feet trying to delay the inevitable. I kept thinking and overanalyzing:
• Did I make the most of these 10 weeks?
• Did I hold him enough?
• Love him enough?
• Cuddle, snuggle enough?
• Is he ready, heck, I’m I ready?!
I knew he was going to be fine and that he would be loved and cared for. His teacher is wonderful--Mary is a true blessing! But regardless of who was going to care for him or how safe he will be, it’s not the same. It’s really difficult having to be a “working girl” (as Deacon calls it) and a full-time mommy. You basically give up your parenting rights during your working hours so that you can help provide for your family. No matter how wonderful the teacher or the school is, it just isn’t the same. That is what I find most difficult—that I am sacrificing 40 hours a week, so the little time I have with my children I try to cherish and have it be meaningful.
Anyway, as we walked into Cohen’s new classroom I put on a mask of happiness and calmness. I was going to fake it, or at least the best I could. We got Cohen out of his seat and I just squeezed him and held him tight. Mary came over and ever so lovingly said, “Oh my, look at this handsome boy!” She then said, “How ya doin’ mom?!” And that’s when the flood gates opened. I lost it. Beyond control, almost to the point of the ‘ugly cry’ but before I knew it Mary just wrapped her arms around me and said, “Annie, you know it’s going to be fine, you are going to be fine.” Let me point out that she didn’t say Cohen was going to be fine, that was a given, but that I was going to be fine! The empathy that she gave me was a gift—she reassured me that it was all going to be okay. As promised I lifted the typed instruction sheet from my purse and gave it to Mary. I prefaced it by saying, “This is not meant to insult you. I know what’s on here is common sense and probably not even necessary, but I just couldn’t help myself.” Mary laughed and said she understood. It’s not that I thought they needed the letter, but I needed it. It was the one thing I could control. During the day, I have no control to what happens at daycare with my children, I have to trust that they will be cared for.
So, I dropped off the bottles, stocked the school’s freezer with his “popsicles” (the term Doug coined for my breast milk that we stockpiled in our downstairs freezer), set his clothes in his crib, gave him another squeeze and held him for what felt like an eternity. Doug, was being so patient with me and was the rock to support me. I’m pretty sure he wanted to cry, but didn’t, he wanted to be strong for me. But as I held Cohen tight never wanting to let go, a voice spoke to my heart. “Anne” It said in a soft voice, “Let go. He is safe; both of your children are safe. Trust, and let go.” So with one tearful last hug, and a thousand kisses, I let go. I handed him over to Mary and I left arm in arm with Doug.
We walked back down to Deacon’s room to say goodbye again (we said we would). By now, Deacon is such a pro at drop off that he almost looked embarrassed that we actually walked down again. But then I said, “Love you sweetie”, and he mouthed the words, “Mommy, I love you more.” That boy has charm!
That was that. I got into my car, drove to work, only called the daycare ONCE and was greeted by my co-workers with hugs, smiles and a hearty “welcome back”. I am so lucky that I get to work with such incredible people; they are an extension of my family. That work day was a day of getting readjusted to “work life” and learning again how to establish a routine! Once the clock hit 4:00pm I was out of there and sped (not to fast!) down to the daycare to get Cohen and Deacon. As I knew it would be, Cohen did fine. He was a rock star, and took to Ms Mary quite well—I know he is going to be super close to her! Deacon was fine (as usual) and home we went. I survived the first day, and the days after that. Slowly but surely I am learning again how to juggle the duties of being a mom and a “working girl”.
It’s all about juggling without dropping the ball. And the voice that spoke to my heart was right, I had to let go. I am for certain that voice was divine intervention; God truly was the one giving me a pep talk. Letting go is difficult and I may always have one hand on my children’s hearts at all times, but in order to grow, move forward and thrive I need to let go and trust. I had to trust that this was the right decision for my family and that my kids are being loved by their teachers almost as much as the love we give to them as their parents.