Monday was Alli's first day at daycare, and I had the honor of dropping her off all by myself. And I have to say, I'll never forget how I felt walking out the door of the daycare to my car. It was the most god-awful feeling I've ever experienced in my life.
For those of you who don't have kids, I don't know how to describe it to you. I would imagine it's similar to having your heart ripped out of your chest. It literally felt like someone was reaching into my stomach and turning it upside down. It's almost impossible to describe how it feels to leave your child like that, even if it is at a well-respected daycare facility.
After dropping Alli off in her classroom, putting her bottles away and filling out a sheet noting when I dropped her off and the last time she ate, I had to turn around and walk out without her. On my way out, I ran into one of our friends who was dropping her daughter off as well (a much older daughter, though). I did the best I could to smile and say Hi, but once I hit the door it all came welling up. I had to bite my lip as I walked across the parking lot to avoid causing a scene. As soon as I shut the car door and turned the key, I starting bawling like an 8 year-old girl who just found out that Justin Bieber is gay. I sobbed to myself the entire 20 minute drive to work. Once I got there, I just wanted to sit in the parking lot and cry it out for an hour.
Call me a girl, wuss, pansy... call me what you will. Maybe it would be different if Alli was a boy, but probably not. Either way, I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worst enemies. Don't get me wrong, I know Alli is in the care of top-notch professionals (trust me, the monthly daycare bill will remind me of that), but you can't help but think about what she's really doing and thinking while you're gone.
Is she confused with these new people taking care of her - changing her, feeding her, playing with her? What about when she wakes up from her naps? She's always used to seeing Mommy B's smiling face - "Who is this stranger (of a different skin tone, no less) picking me up now?"
Is she sleeping OK during nap times? Does she miss the felt blanket of her crib at home? Is it too loud and bright for her to get a decent nap? Are the other kids screaming too much for her to fall asleep? Does she even care, or is she just going to pass out anyway?
Is she going to get along with the other kids? Are there enough kids her age to interact with? Are they going to end up getting her sick? I know that's inevitable...
Is she ever just sitting there by herself, wondering when Mommy B or Dad-E will come hold her just the way she likes it?
How much is she really crying during the day? I mean come on, are they really going to tell me that she had an awful day and cried the whole time? Doubtful... no one would bring their kid back the next day if they thought their child was having a terrible time there...
Are her teachers going to know how much she likes to be held? Are they going to figure out that she likes to lay on her back in the morning, then sit up in a Bumbo in the afternoon? Can they keep all this straight while watching nine other kids??
OK - enough freaking out. After the first day, just about all my fears were put to rest. She got a couple naps in, drained almost all 6 bottles Mommy B packed for her (that's my girl!), and actually smiled at me when I walked into her classroom to pick her up. She even fell asleep in the car on the way home holding onto my finger... made me want to start bawling all over again.
I remember being a kid and being nervous and scared about the first day of school... little did I know that it's even worse being the parent. The good news is that it only gets better from here.
By the way - our little angel slept from 7:30pm last night until 4:30am this morning. She slept all the way through, without waking up once. And to think that Mommy B was actually upset because she missed spending time with Alli Ru. Funny, I recall a recent post talking about how worried she was that she was going to have to go to work after being up all night with a hungry baby...