Today E took her first giant leap towards independence. She had her first nearly full day at day care. As I've mentioned it's something I have been struggling with extensively. Largely because of cost. I hear other people talk about the cost of day care and I nearly choke on envy when I hear quotes in the hundreds. In the NJ area you can not enroll an infant in day care for under $1,000. And I don't actually know of anywhere that can do it for $1,000. It's usually the low one thousands to high one thousands. It's like another mortgage payment. But in 30 years you don't have a house. You can only hope you have a grown adult child who is doing well enough for themselves at that point that they can afford to take care of you!
At any rate, the struggle has been largely influenced because of price. However, thankfully because of the kind words and guidance of several dear friends, and one particular dear work friend, I could hear in the back of my mind: "Don't sacrifice what you want because of price. You'll regret it." So although I kept looking for someplace that would meet my needs and also be more cost efficient, I kept going back to my one and only first choice which was going to cost a small fortune. There were other places that were newer, and therefore appeared to be nicer, and there were places that were cheaper. There we places that were closer, and bigger, and smaller and everything else you could imagine. But this was the one and only place that I kept getting back into the car and going "I love it, I loved the people, it just felt right." And I couldn't find another place that could tell me their infant teacher had been with them for 11 years. So after weeks, and really, months since I had begun considering this center in August, I finally decided I just couldn't sacrifice the comfort that this center would provide me for any amount of money.
Thus, as I began, E took her first step towards independence. This morning at 6:30 AM, Mommy, Daddy and E all rolled out of the driveway. Down the road we went, and into the center parking lot we went. We all piled out of the car, and walked into the front door. We received a warm welcome from the infant teacher. Whom I will now fondly refer to as Grandma K. The Director was there and excited to see us. We will now call her Ms. D. We brought our little baby bop into the infant room and unloaded all of her things and had a brief talk with Grandma K. She encouraged us to call as many times today as we wanted/needed. Not to feel like we were asking stupid questions, to do whatever made us feel better. E went to Grandma K without any tears. And when we were sitting in the Director's office right across the hall from the infant room, we could hear E and Grandma K already playing. Still, no tears. Having filled out all the necessary paperwork, Daddy and Mommy piled back into the car, and headed home. I turned to Daddy and said "that was easier than I thought." It was. I was excited. It still just felt right. E had been so happy and content and I had absolutely no hesitation that these were the right people to watch her.
Mommy got home, and into the house. Now was quiet time for Mommy. I could do whatever it was that I wanted. I sat down on the computer to take care of some work. And as I sat there and realized, for the first time since E was born, I was in my house, alone. And THEN, it felt weird. THEN it got harder. I still felt more than confident in the center I had chosen, but then it just felt strange to be without E. I called once, after I got off of a conference call with my office. That was at about 10. Even then the only reason I called was because that had been my agreement with the Infant teacher, and it had been her suggestion to call at that point. I checked in to find out how E was doing. She was doing great. She'd had a bottle, and had a nap, and had been playing happily. No meltdowns, no issues. So I decided to take care of some more things and pick E up at about 1.
A little after 1 I returned to the center parking lot. On the ride to the center I was particularly conscious of the speed I was driving. Since I felt like driving like a maniac to get my little girl. I had been ok with her being there until I had decided it was time for her to be at home. And suddenly I missed her SOOOO much. When I got to the center the Assistant Director opened the door for me... "how are you doing?".... "WHERE'S MY BABY!!!" LOL... She laughed and brought me to the Infant room. There was Grandma K, with 2 other babies on either side, and little E dozing off in her lap. So rather than disturb her at that moment I went ahead with the paperwork that needed to be filled out. E was still snoozing when I got done. She was so happy and content, I had a momentary feeling of not being needed. As I stood there talking to Grandma K E started to surface. She turned and looked at me, and just stared. No smile, no laugh, no sign of "Yey, my mommy is back." The look almost looked like "You look like someone I know but I can't place who it is." I am going to attribute this to the fact she had just woken up, but it kind of did break my heart in that moment.
As Grandma K and I wrapped up her day, I stood there holding her in my arms. And then, E decided to remind me that I'm the only one who would do, and that She was more comfortable with me than anyone else. And as we stood there talking about how great she had been, she pooped the most gigantic poop ever. *sigh* Well, like I said, I guess she does still need me!
So at the end of today I learned that E is going to love day care. She is going to bond well with Grandma K and Ms. D and all the other teachers. But at the end of the day, as I've been learning all along, I am STILL Mommy. And nobody can take that away from me. She has taken what I perceive to be the largest step toward independence ever. It's the beginning of what will some day lead to her ability to grow up, go to college and have a family of her own. And I am grateful that I have found a place that gives me the confidence to know that while she's enjoying herself, she's with the best possible people I could find. I really do just hope she finds other ways to show me she still needs me.
And as always - Who dropped the pacifier?