Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day-care, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Hand Over My Kid

My daughter started day care a couple of weeks ago. Early returns have been, for the most part, positive, albeit with a few rough days - though none in the last week or so.

Me, on the other hand, I'm day-to-day; some days, I'm thrilled at the idea that my daughter is in day care and is interacting with other kids, the teachers, all that stuff.

Some days, though, I'm a mess. I think about how the little hermetically-sealed bubble of "Daddy, Mommy & Baby" has been forever and irretrievably punctured. We'll never get that bubble back; the baby bird is out of the nest, etc.

I think about how, in those first few days, she would cry at drop off and hold out her arms to be taken back. How our "happiest baby in the world" would seem sad sometimes.

Mostly, though, I felt like the worst parent in the world; when forced to choose between being home and caring for my child or handing her off to strangers so I could make a buck, I chose money...

Here's the thing, though; it's not really a choice. My wife and I struggled with this everyday (her much more than me, since she had been home with our daughter every day since she was born), often feeling bad about our choice. I've come to realize that it's not a choice - in order for us to provide our baby girl with a home, clothes, a future, and all that stuff, we have to work. Life is too expensive - day care ain't cheap, that's for sure - and money is not just a necessary evil; it's required.

On the way to our parental steel-cage wrestling match with this existential crisis of money vs. family, a funny - and wholly unsurprising - thing happened: My daughter adjusted and is FINE. She's still happy.

She still giggles when I imitate Cookie Monster (an admittedly poor imitation, but she doesn't know that yet)... loves Peek-A-Boo... thinks "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" is the best book ever... basically, she's adapted and is as happy, playful and smiley (Scrunchy Face) as ever. Seeing that, and hearing from the day care folks that she such a happy baby, helps, too.

Mommy and Daddy still can be prone to over-thinking and suffering paralyzing paroxysms of parental guilt, but we're learning to deal with it. Once again, I'm finding that I - we - have just as much to learn from her as she does from me.

1 comment:

panner said...

or..... you can't afford to have kids if you can't be there to raise them? it is of course a choice.

or, maybe the US government is creating a system that requires you to serve it (work) in order to afford to pro create. mandatory health care, etc.

you shouldn't have to have two working parents and be able to have a nice life with kids. it's wrong.