Every Mom dreads that day. The day their little one goes to a daycare for the very first time.
Mine was no different; given that anxiety is my middle name. Thanks to my parents who abundantly bestowed the most exquisite gene pool to me, anxiety and tension being the two most prominent traits.
My baby was at home from birth until he turned 20 months old, and I was at a stone’s throw at office visiting him at regular intervals and a housemaid managing him when I was not there. My mother visited a couple of times too, and things were going smoothly until one day, my maid got enlightened from the other world. She decided to play hard-to-get, increased her wages, and started being irregular for lame reasons. This was unacceptable and we started thinking seriously and browsing aggressively for good daycare centers.
And we landed one.
So my next step was… to get anxious. I started chatting with all Moms I have on my chat list asking them what was the ripe age to go to playgroup. Given that my kiddo gets hyperactive around other kids his age was a sure sign that a forty year old housemaid is no company to him. Many of my friends were happy to help me get myself together over an endless list of queries and worries I had. I got a sense of reassurance from them. I visited the daycare center a few times, and shed some tears while talking to the teacher in charge because I am an emotional mess most of the time i.e whenever I am not sleeping. I ensured the daycare was certified, made careful observation about cleanliness, the children to teacher ratio and most importantly how engaged the kids appeared whenever I visited. I noticed that none of the kids including babies were crying and they all were engrossed in something or the other, as the big bright room had enough toys and stationery to keep tiny tots busy for a long time. This boosted my confidence a little bit. I must tell you, I’d been at the crossroads of life many times and in do-or-die situations (read examinations) too, but I've never been through such emotional stress, ever.
As weekend falls on Thursday and Friday in this part of the world, Saturday was the first day of the week. Then came Saturday, February 23rd 2013.
Before that, I will let you guys peep into how February 22nd went. Complete disillusionment. Yes we went out to buy lunch and snack boxes for him, during which I was still in a state of complete delusion. I did not sleep that night. My mind wandered around his playschool and I pictured him in the worst scenarios. I was not helping myself in the belief and faith part of prayer. Soon my alarm went off, and I realized that nights are very short when you are preoccupied. Nights are also short on examination eves, but that is a different story.
So on that day, I woke up at 5:00 a.m, that’s when my working day starts. The kitchen schedules were completely reoriented to pack his lunch, thus pushing our breakfast into a second priority. Diapers, dresses, napkins, lunch, snacks, milk, water – Check. Around 9:00 am, we left from home. My hands were sweating like crazy, while my son was humming away a random tune.
Soon we reached the nursery and were welcomed by smiling teachers and a lot of kids of different age groups and nationalities. The bigger kids had assembled there before going to their classrooms. As they left the play area seemed bigger and brighter with all sorts of toys and little rides. Four other toddlers almost the same age as him stood there playing among themselves. When he saw the big bright room, he struggled himself out of my hands and walked towards the toys. He got into one of the rides, and turned and smiled at me. I stood there for a while, and he occasionally turned to look at me, not knowing that I will not be there for long. I fought back tears. Seeing my constipated expression, my husband intervened and asked.. “So you think the parents of those kids dumped them here because they don’t like them?”
“Then what? See how happy he is now. He may miss us, but this is where he wants to be during the day. Not at home watching those useless serials with the housemaid”.
Okay that went above my head, and the teacher consoled me that he will be fine and that they were all there for him. She also told me not to stay there looking at him too long.
I slowly left, with a heavy heart, wiping tears. I also called up the nursery like ten times and they said that he was not crying. However the nursery being a new place for him, he did not sleep on the first day.
I picked him up in the evening, and he was little tired but still smiling. He came home and caught up on sleep.
The days after, for around two weeks, he cried when we dropped him, and clung to me refusing to go. This literally broke my heart and I cried excessively on my way back to office every single day. I wailed, hyperventilated and became the loudest drama queen ever in the history of motherhood. Not to mention the levels of productivity at office on those days.
It is his fourth week at playschool now, and my prayers have been answered. Since last week he looks forward to go , has made new friends, sleeps and eats on time and is happy by the grace of the Almighty. The day has come that I can wave to a happy face when I drop him in the morning. The day I was praying so badly for, is finally here. That smile, and the way he waves at me is directly proportional to my sanity and presence of mind that day.
This is for all the mothers, working or not, who dreads a nursery or a playgroup and cannot imagine sending their precious child to one. I assure you, from experience, kids always love to be around other kids than with us.