Today was Miss E’s first day of child care. I tried to write something yesterday to prepare myself, but I got utterly derailed by crying after writing her name in permanent marker on the bottom of a sippy cup.
I can’t help but feel like there were questions I didn’t think to ask her family child care provider – even though I had help from the best – that there are scenarios I haven’t considered, that despite having the privilege of providing her primary care for 16 months I just didn’t appreciate her company enough. Did I waste too much time checking my email? Wishing she’d just nap already? Folding laundry? I realize that the way I’m feeling is unproductive and futile, given I start teaching next week and student loans desperately need paying. I tell myself it’s only three days a week, and to grieve for such a little bit of time after I’ve had so long with her is selfish and silly. But that’s just how I feel. Because I’m not sure we’re ever ready to let our children grow up, and I’ve gotten more of a delay in letting her go than many modern parents. For that I am intensely thankful.
When I’m not sniffling about it, it’s strange for me to think that she’s going to a place that will belong more to her than it does to me, a place that will become more familiar to her, full of memories made without mama around. I’ve always regarded her as her own whole person and felt like that’s a real cornerstone to my parenting philosophy, but up until this point, we’ve shared a life. She’s been with sitters, sure, I’ve had fruitful conversations with adults about things that aren’t bowel movements, I even spent a few days away from her. But my world for more than a year has been about the little things, about this one particular little thing who gives the best puckered-up kisses, who signs for dog at the sight of every four-legged, furry creature (and sometimes dolphins), who is as winsome as she is curious. Now I have to trust that I’ve made the right choice, have to remember how be a grown-up for more than the hurried hours after bedtime. A few very good friends have pointed out that the time we’ll spend apart will make me enjoy my time with her so much more, so I’m not always juggling email and laundry and adulthood while also trying to be an attentive parent (or at least, not quite as much). That helps.
It’s just, she’s been my sidekick for so long I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.