an emotional roller coaster

The end of a really good era arrived for Elliot (and us) a couple of weeks ago. For the past two years he’s been going to a good friend’s house for daycare, and he’s been loving it. When I’d tell him it was a daycare day, his response would be “Yay!”. When we’d drop him off he’d say a quick goodbye and then often follow it up with “You go now, Mum”. There were several times when he’d be in tears because we were leaving at the end of the day. Greg and I consider ourselves very lucky to have had this arrangement for so long.

Sadly, she’s closing her doors soon, and I’m going back to work in a couple of weeks. Thankfully we found a space in another daycare, a centre that’s had him on their waitlist for three years. Amy will also soon start there, but probably not until June (in the meantime the aforementioned friend and Gramma are helping out with her).

Elliot and I both went to visit the daycare last Tuesday, and since then he’s been on his own there three times, including this morning. He’s only stayed about three hours each time.

The drop-offs are as expected. Cries of “you stay, Mum”, physically clinging to me, tearfully waving to me out the “goodbye window”. It feels horrible. And while it helps on a theoretical level to know that millions of children and parents have survived this transition, it doesn’t really help on an emotional level. I still feel like a terrible mother.

I think if this were a necessity I’d feel a bit better about it, but this is a choice Greg and I have made. We do not want to make the drastic lifestyle changes required to have me not work, and even if we did want to, I do not want to be a stay-at-home mum.

I’ve referred to an emotional roller coaster in this post’s title, but it’s probably better described as an emotional hole. Because there have been no ups. When I think about daycare I almost get sick to my stomach. When I drop him off, I’m nervous, although I think I’m able to hide that from him. When I pick him up we have a happy reunion, but it doesn’t make me feel any better that he is so happy to see me. I imagine he’s been missing me terribly for the past three hours.

I know I’m not giving him enough credit. Kids are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Elliot can fend for himself when he needs to, and he does it a whole lot better without me than with me. I’m his safety net, which is how it should be, and I shouldn’t assume that his behaviour when he’s around me is the same as when I’m not there.

I’ve been getting positive reports from his teacher, but they are brief. I want to be a fly on the wall and actually see him having fun there. I’ve had a glimpse of it when I pick him up, but then he sees me and it’s all about going home NOW. Plus the picture in my head that’s more permanent is of him tearfully waving at the window.

This really sucks, and I’ll be happy when we are through this transition. I know we will get there. If we don’t, then we’ll find something else for him, but it doesn’t help much now.

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