December 6, 2005

Daycare Daze

As part of our new morning routine, Andrea leaves for work before I do. It is my responsibility to get the kids together and deliver them to daycare. After Andrea left I gathered them on the floor and lightly tickled their feet. We giggled and laughed at each other. I gave them kisses as they smiled up at me. I couldn’t help but feel guilty. Little did they know that in less than 30 minutes I’d be leaving them with a total stranger.

As I gathered them up to put them in their infant carriers for the 10 minute ride to prison daycare I held each of them close and told them how much I loved being with them the past five weeks. TheMonk nibbled his fingers and then reached out with his slobbery hand and grabbed my nose. He smiled as I mockingly grimaced at the slimy fingers on my face. I gave him a big noisy kiss as he squealed in delight and set him into his carrier. Next, I picked up Swee’Pea and she clung to the back of my neck and nuzzled my cheek with hers. I held her a little more tightly than usual and inhaled her familiar scent of lavender lotion with a hint of breast milk. I kissed her as well and soon she was buckled into her carrier. I stood up and took stock of the room. All the bags filled with diapers, formula, changes of clothes and similar items were already in the car. I gave them their stuffed monkeys that they have grown to love – the same monkeys that Andrea and I had slept with the night before to make sure our scent lingered on the one toy they would bring with them. I glanced down to see two little faces looking up at me expectedly. I smiled and they smiled back. “We’re going bye-bye, babies.” I said. With that I picked up both carriers and took them out to the car.

Before I knew it we were on our way. The drive to the daycare seemed long and short at the same time. Thoughts of my past five weeks flittered through my mind. I tried not to think too much about all that I would be missing in the coming days, weeks and months. Milestones yet to be achieved that could easily happen in front of someone that we’re paying to watch our kids. Crawling, first steps, first words. Would we hear of these from the daycare provider? I hoped not.

As we arrived at the house I gathered them up along with all of the bags. I must have looked like quite a sight as I struggled to gracefully carry two bags and two infant carriers to the door. Once inside we were greeted warmly by the daycare provider. Two one-year olds were already there. I set the carriers down on her couch and we got them out one at a time. I held TheMonk first as I gave him kisses while he surveyed the room. Soon enough I handed him off to the daycare provider’s eldest daughter who helps her mom at the daycare. TheMonk didn’t seem to care who was holding him (Couldn’t you care a little TheMonk?). He smiled away as he took stock of his surroundings. Ever the curious one, he was in heaven at all the new stimulation. I now turned my attention to Swee’Pea. The daycare provider and I huddled around Swee’Pea in her infant carrier. As I reached down to unbuckle her she was eyeballing the daycare provider something fierce. “Wow, look at that look she’s giving me!” says the daycare provider. It is a look of uncertainty mixed with skepticism. She almost looks angry as she stares up. I take her out of her seat and give her kisses. She isn’t sure what’s going on and I don’t get my usual smile. I hand her off to daycare provider. Swee’Pea accepts this but her expression doesn’t change.

The next 10 – 15 minutes were spent going over their schedule and their likes and dislikes. I presented daycare provider with a printed schedule and tips on how to get them to sleep. I also gave her a small spiral notebook and asked her to write down when they nap, poop, and if anything neat happens that day. She says she will.

While we are doing this, TheMonk has forgotten all about his old man. He’s being entertained by the daughter and is checking out the two one-year olds in the room. I come back and kiss him goodbye. He smiles and I smile back – bravely. I don’t want to smile but I do it anyway. I turn to Swee’Pea as we get closer to the door. I take her in my arms, raise her above my head and she smiles at this. I feel better having seen her smile and I give her one last kiss. I hand her back to the daycare provider and say my final goodbye as I head out the door.

I get in my car. I sigh heavily and sit there in the silence of the chilled morning. After a few seconds I start the ignition and drive away. Two blocks later a single tear falls down my face. I take a deep breath and continue to work. I tell myself, “This will get easier.”


  1. Fear not, oh brave father, it does get easier. Avery has been spending days (though not full-time) with our daycare provider, and after the initial, “wait, I am paying a stranger to watch my most prized asset” wears off, you will find that the daycare is like a part of the family. Avery loves to spend time with Jane, just as much as she loves us and plays with us. It will get easier.

    Comment by The Parental Olympian — December 6, 2005 @ 8:50 am

  2. They will enjoy the the stimulation of the other children. Their cousin Tommy has done well at daycare. Bri and JT will love the attention they get from the other children and they will learn new tricks from them as well. Now, if I lived with you…

    Comment by Grandmother — December 6, 2005 @ 10:50 am

  3. I remember the first day I took my first daughter to daycare. She was about 10 weeks old and it nearly broke my heart. I was glad I had my own office (broom closet) so that I could cry all day. She was absolutely fine. Now that I have a second daughter and they are both home with me, I notice the differences. My older daughter is much more outgoing and loves to be around other kids. My second daughter hates to be held by anyone who isn’t her Mom or Dad (Gramma included). She is quite clingy and doesn’t sleep well with a lot of noise.

    It’s going to be OK.

    Comment by misfithausfrau — December 6, 2005 @ 11:38 am

  4. It will get easier.

    I remember the first time I took my daughter to her preschool class. Did she cry? Nope. Did she hug me goodbye? Nope. She just ran in there and started playing with the kids & toys. Nearly broke my heart.

    Comment by Chag — December 6, 2005 @ 12:19 pm

  5. It does get easier. Once they are big enough to run in laughing you start to feel bad that they are leaving you, not that you are leaving them:-)

    Still, LMD still screams as we walk up to the daycare front door, so she’s not getting much easier:-(

    Comment by Mrs Aginoth — December 6, 2005 @ 1:07 pm

  6. You should consider issuing a mascara alert for these kinds of posts. I hope all went well for the babes on their first day–oh, and for their dad on his first day back.

    Comment by amy — December 6, 2005 @ 2:42 pm

  7. Joining the chorus of, “It does get easier”. Sure, there will be some days better than others, as with anything. When you all get into a routine, it can be really enjoyable to share things with someone else who cares about your children. Eventually, they will have favorite toys and little friends and it’s fun to watch. All in all, the benefits of a good daycare situation have far outweighed any negatives for us.

    Comment by Busy Mom — December 6, 2005 @ 2:47 pm

  8. :’-( Awww… I sure hope it gets easier!! I cannot imagine having to do what you did… even though you know it’s only for a little while… Chin up Matt! At least they didn’t scream when you left… and it sounds like they’re in good hands!!

    Comment by Corinne — December 6, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

  9. Hey, I’ve just found your blog and added it to my blog list. Let me know if you’d rather not be there.

    Comment by Sassy — December 6, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

  10. I like your title. :-) It does get easier. There’s always that push-pull, I think. You want them to be happy in daycare, but you want them to miss you, too. Happy is better!

    Comment by Mary — December 8, 2005 @ 5:01 am

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