“Tomorrow’s your last day of daycare, bud.”
I was washing Gavin’s hands after our Pizza Thursday dinner last night. His little hands and face where covered in tomato sauce.
“I want more,” he said.
He wasn’t talking about the pizza.
“But you’ll get to start being home with Mommy soon! Isn’t that great?”
His hands were clean. His mind wasn’t quite made up yet.
I can’t believe we’re here. I hate these kind of transitions for my kids. It is the reason Dan could never convince me to transition the kids out of our old daycare (that and the cost of finding anything better). And now, my children are thriving and I’m about to shake things up completely… again.
Four months ago my children’s lives were rocked when it was discovered that our old daycare was operating illegally and potentially dangerously and was shut down. My life was rocked too. The person I had trusted my children to no longer seemed to care about their welfare. The kids were kicked out by the department of community services one morning with no warning (although apparently there was a two week period where we were supposed to be warned). I would not wish the stress of those days on my worst enemy. My heart broken in a million pieces to watch my children experience such a traumatic and confusing event.
And we only had four months to go until I’d be on maternity leave. I knew that in four months, we’d be shifting their lives once again. That felt completely unfair.
But we found a place. A good place. A licensed place. A place with a natural playground and a focus on education. A place where my eldest started to learn French. A place where, blessedly, my youngest’s best friend from his old daycare was also placed. A place where the teachers were loving and kind and genuine and I had no complaints or concerns about the location or the management. After going through such a tumultuous previous daycare experience, my husband and I felt completely confident that we had found the perfect place for our children, especially after they were welcomed so warmly with literal open arms (Gavin needs his snuggles).
At one point in my motherhood journey, I was worried about putting my kids in daycare. I actually went so far to think (if not to say) that I didn’t want someone else raising my children – as if Dan and I alone were all these kids required to thrive. I failed to remember that it takes a village. It takes grandparents and friends and, yes, even early childhood educators. Why would I want to limit the amount of adults who love and want what’s best for my children?
In these last, blessed four months, Cameron has learned to count to 10 in French and can identify colours too. Gavin has gone from being difficult to decipher to speaking non-stop in long paragraphs.
When Cameron and I spoke at the beginning of the week about how this would be his last week of daycare, I explained that it meant he would get to be at home with Mommy and that the new baby would be joining us soon. He’s often mentioned that he looked forward to being home with me, but this time when I asked how he felt about leaving daycare, his answer was “Um, not so good.”
I’ve been looking forward to this Friday for so many reasons. Finishing work is an important milestone on my journey to a baby. I need a few days at home to really feel prepared for this new life phase. Today was an ending day, a transition day, and for the most part, that’s a really good thing.
Except I’m crying about it too. I’m really incredibly sad over it.
I’m not sad that my kids have mixed feelings about being home with me. I have mixed feelings over being home with them! How will I come anywhere close to providing the kind of activity and learning and attention that they were getting at daycare? How can I feel happy about taking them away from teachers they love and friends they can socialize with daily? I want them to have the best day to day experience, and I’ve come to learn that they get an incredible one from their daycare.
I’m grateful for the experience that we’ve had these last four months. I’m worried I won’t compare. I’m heartbroken to say goodbye.
Tonight, after cupcakes at work and saying goodbye to daycare, after a busy evening of dryland hockey, during a quick (and celebratory?) fast food dinner, Cameron asked if he could go to daycare next Friday.
“What’s going on at daycare on Friday?” I asked him.
“PJ DAY!” he told me excitedly.
And there I was. Sitting in the middle of this restaurant trying to hold back the tears that were rushing to my eyes. Because let’s be truthful – every day could be pj day at home next week if we want. In fact, it is highly likely that every day will be pj day. But they won’t come close to exciting my little four year old as much as pj day at daycare.
I know we’ll have a good year together. We’ll find our way into a beautiful routine that will include down time and play dates and scheduled activities. Cameron will even start school in September and Gavin and the baby and I will take him every morning and pick him up every afternoon, and we’ll listen to all the amazing things that happened at school – just like I’ve been hearing all about the amazing things that have been happening at daycare for these last four months.
I’m saying goodbye to my village. We’ll find a new one. Maybe we’ll even be back to lean on this village a time or two in the coming year. But right now, I’m grieving. And I think my kids might be too, in their own ways.
My boys this morning, before heading into their very last day of daycare.
(And PS: If anyone is local to the Cole Harbour area and wants to know the name of this fabulous daycare, please reach out. I would be happy to provide a glowing recommendation).