Yes, you read that right. In three short weeks, my daughter will be starting her first day of school. Well, technically it’s not school. It’s more of a mother’s day out program. And it’s just one day a week, less than five minutes away from my house. And these are the things I keep saying to myself to keep from freaking out that my baby is going to school.
As a stay at home mom, my daughter and I are joined at the hip. She goes where I go and we stay busy, whether we’re at playgroups or running errands and if she’s especially fussy, we even sleep together. It is undoubtedly going to be a new experience for us both to be apart for more than a couple of hours at a time.
I remember the first time I left her alone. I dropped her off at my neighbor’s house just four doors down. As I left, I was certain that she would scream her head off the entire time I was gone, inconsolable that I’d left her, feeling betrayed and abandoned. I felt like a terrible mother and I felt guilty that there was no way around me having to leave her. I rushed through my task as quickly as possible and practically ran back to my neighbor’s to pick her up. I strained my ears to hear her cries and for a split second became even more worried as I ran to the front door and heard nothing. When my neighbor opened the door holding my calm and quiet baby, I actually started crying with relief. She was fine, she didn’t hate me and we all made it through in one piece.
The next time we left her, it was our wedding anniversary and my parents had come to town to babysit for my husband and I while we went to our fancy dinner for two. I didn’t even make it through the appetizer before I was calling home, wondering if my baby missed us. When my mom didn’t pick up on the first ring like I explicitly instructed her, I began to panic. When the call went to voicemail, I fought back the tears, certain that she didn’t pick up because they were speeding to the emergency room after some horrible accident. When my mom called me back a split second later, explaining that she was just changing the baby’s diaper, I had to brush back a tear or two that had escaped while waiting for her call. Once again, the baby was just fine. On the other hand, I was a basket case.
I’m proud to say that the couple of times we’ve had babysitters I didn’t even call home. My husband may have confiscated my phone, telling me to trust that everything is going to be okay, but I didn’t call. Still, a part of me doesn’t breathe until I’m back home and can gently lay a hand on my sleeping baby.
So yeah, the thought of leaving her in the care of others for an entire day has me questioning whether or not I can actually do it. The socialization will be good for her and she’ll be there with lots of the neighborhood kids. I’ve endlessly questioned my mom friends whose children attend the program and they all have nothing but glowing things to say about the teachers and the facility. It’ll be good for her interact with others without me around to foster her independence. But the fact remains that this is the first time we’ll be apart for a full day, and this is only the beginning. Is there any way to slow this train down?
Do your kids attend a mother’s day out program? Are they in preschool? What do you do with your free time? Do you have tips for me on how to survive my own separation anxiety? Here’s hoping I won’t sit in the parking lot and cry until it’s time to pick her up!