It all started when I went back to work when my first daughter, Gabby, was 7 months old. She had never been away from me and was so attached that I did my best to NOT walk the 200 steps from my work to the daycare to make sure she was OK. It was good for her to not be ripped from my arms so often every day, and while I didn’t enjoy it, it was the right thing to do.
While I missed her during the days, it didn’t take long for us to realize that we were also missing out on the best parts of her day. By the time we got her home, Gabby had used up all of her good, happy time at school and had nothing left for us. I’m not saying that she wasn’t happy to be home with her two loving parents. I’m saying we, her parents, didn’t get to witness that happy time at the end of the day. And so it seemed pointless. When it feels like there must be a better way and you don’t have the ability to change what you’re doing, you enter an emotional vacuum.
It gets better… and it gets worse.
With our second, Lillian, I did go to see her during the day when I could because I wanted to watch her play and hold her when I was having a bad day at work. She handled me leaving better because my coming and going was a constant (she started daycare when she was 13 weeks old). But Lillian is a child who needs a lot of sleep. Her bedtime for the first year was 6:30 PM, which means I literally got one hour with her after work before I had to rush her screaming, exhausted body to her crib.
We were all getting a raw deal.
It’s really no different now. I get excellent reports from their teachers: “Gabby is the first one to follow directions in the whole class.” And “Lillian hasn’t had any meltdowns this week.”
This is the complete opposite of my experience and our home life, and I know why. Home is their safe place. They know Mom and Dad love them unconditionally. So, when they get transferred back into my care, the listening ears shut off and the meltdown floodgates open because they are tired. They are tired of learning, obeying, following instructions, and being told what to do. They need a release. And I completely get that.
Almost four years in and I still resent missing out on the parts of their day.
For mothers of kids in daycare, can you relate? How do you create a balance in behaviors when you’re home with your little ones?
WRITTEN BY NICOLE
Nicole McDermott is a transplant to Buffalo from, well… all over the Northeast. She teaches college students about sexual health, chases after two little girls, and is potty-training two kids at once with one small bathroom. Keep up with Nicole’s adventures at newestmcdermott.com