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Reluctantly leaving my baby with the snotty nosed coughing kid

It’s that time of year – back to school.  For many parents, facing the first day of school for their little one is a bit of a tear-jerker.  Alisha shares her own story of the first step towards that fateful day.  Her daughter’s first day of day care.

This is Little L on day care day 1
All smiles about the pending adventure with her new pink bag

My daughter was 18 months when I returned to work. Secretly, I didn’t mind the idea of going back.  I hadn’t fully let go of the career I wanted and I was still uncertain about who I would be if I didn’t have this aspect in my life.

She was a pretty good talker early on so asking for what she might need wasn’t a worry.  I did wonder though how she would keep up on the climbing equipment, if the Carers would be there to help take the lid off her yoghurt and what to do when that boy with the dirty face pushed or bit her (which inevitably happened!).  After dropping her off I drove on to work, bawling my eyes out, and felt incredibly guilty. Every morning from then I had to remind myself not to do my mascara until I arrived at the carpark at work. Putting it on at home just wasn’t working out!

Day 3 was a killer.

The first 2 days I am lulled into a false sense of security that she is happy, but on day 3 she had worked out that this was a permanent arrangement and she wanted none of it. Her sad and uncertain face as I said goodbye was tattooed on my brain. You would imagine that with the distraction of a work day and the pressures of returning after such a long break would mean I would be too busy and focused to be able to worry.  Nope.  I constantly checked my phone, I would never forgive myself if she was sick or hurt and I missed a call that she needed me.  As soon as my day was done I zoomed to collect her.

She runs to me with open arms. I’m led to her ‘first painting’. And it’s beautiful. It’s got her name on it and the date and I can’t wait to frame it for the wall at home.  The Carers share with me all the little bits and pieces she did or said that amused them.  I remember a friend telling me that there is a bit of ‘what goes on in childcare, stays in childcare’, in order to protect the mothers who miss the first steps or the first words or the many other firsts we believe are rightfully ours to discover as mums (SJP understands this in ‘I don’t know how she does it: First Hair cut’).

But I must trust that she did have a great day, and wasn’t crying in the corner with her ‘cuggy’ blanket! I have no way of knowing for sure, so I just have to trust my instincts.  And I guess this is my first lesson in letting go and that this will hold me in good stead to be able to send her out into the big wide world all on her own one day! Good grief!

My baby girl is now 4, I no longer shed tears when I leave her and she still runs to me with a big smile for a cuddle when I arrive.  I am able to trust that she is happy because now I know she can politely tell the snotty nosed coughing kid to go away, and she can chatter to me about how eventful her day was the whole drive home.

Next challenge, first day of school next year!

How did you go with your child’s first day of day care or school drop off? 

Do you have any tips on how to make the transition a little easier?

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