Mommy lesson #51: Mom’s Day Out! (part excitement, part relief, part guilt)

I’m back! We had a magical, fantastic, utterly exhausting time at Disney World. I can’t wait to tell you all about it, but my hubby is still working on processing the pictures (taken with his fancy DLSR, so they are sure to be wonderful) so you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

In the meantime I thought I’d tell you about Charlotte’s first day of “school.”

This was actually taken last week, but it shows her new-found “studiousness”

Baby Girl started attending our church’s “mother’s day out” program this year. She will go one day a week (Thursdays) from 9am to 2pm. She has stayed in the nursery at church and childcare for MOPS and my Bible study last year, but this is the longest amount of time she’s ever spent in a group daycare setting. We missed the first week because we were at Disney, so I already felt like I was playing catch-up. Between MOPS preparation, laundry, house cleaning, and hosting play group and community group on Wednesday I felt completely unprepared for her first “class.” I had a near meltdown when I suddenly remembered the day before that she needed a nap mat. I frantically rushed to Target, only to be told by an employee they didn’t sell such things. Another mom who overheard my query wished me good luck, telling me that nap mats are almost impossible to find now since all the school supplies have been packed away to make room for Halloween decor. Great. Not exactly what I wanted to hear when I was already in panic mode. Thankfully another lady assured me that they sold nap mats at Walmart, where I eventually found them in the stationary aisle (such the logical place, don’t you think?). Thursday morning I made her lunch, cutting up grapes meticulously and shredding meat and cheese into tiny, un-chokable pieces, all the while wondering if she would eat anything but the animal crackers they were sure to have in abundance. I dithered a bit about how early to get there, and settled on aiming right for nine. I didn’t want to be the early bird momma who leaves her child alone with the worker before sprinting out the door. Turns out she was the last child dropped off. I took a look at the hallway outside the room which was lined with the beautiful diaper bags, colorful sleeping rolls, and nap mats sporting cute, soft covers, and suddenly felt out of my depth, clutching my plastic mat that I had shoved into a Walmart sack along with a random blanket I’d pulled off the shelf in C’s closet. Thankfully Baby Girl transitioned easily from my arms to her teacher’s, and after a few last instructions (for me, not the worker) I waved goodbye and headed out, trying to stay calm despite the swirl of emotions sweeping through me. 
I went to the gym, showered without a little shadow playing peek-a-boo through the curtain, made phone calls sans squealing, insistent child tugging at my arm, and sent some emails that didn’t have to be re-written because little fingers had investigated the keys. I went shopping and spent over half an hour in the store, trying on boots without having to put all of the boxes back on the shelves next to me (Baby Girl has a thing for boxes and shoes). I had lunch with my sweet hubby, who brought me flowers (it was the 19th :)) and conversed without interruption or having to keep our voices quiet for fear of waking the napping child. I was able to concentrate on my Bible study lesson and actually remember what I’d read since I didn’t have to stop every two minutes to read Madeline to the little one. It was wonderful!
When I returned (right at 2, though she was still the last one to be picked up) she had just woken from her nap and was being changed. Her teacher gave a good report, the only exception being that she had a very hard time falling asleep (no surprise there) and they ended up putting her in the one rolling crib they had (so much for the nap mat). That was it. No hitting, no fits, no huge crying spells. Huge sigh of relief. And then guilt, as I realized too late that I forgot to take a picture of her on her first day of school. Whoops. Sorry blog readers.

I took this later Thursday afternoon, guess it counts

So why was this MDO thing such a big deal to me? Moms send their babies to daycare all day long, every day. Why was I so conflicted about sending C away for a few hours once a week?
 I decided it was a combination of factors. First there was guilt. I’m not contributing to our family’s income at the moment, and she doesn’t “need” to have someone else watch her, so how can I justify paying for childcare? Second, I’m excited about having a block of several hours free each week, to do with whatever I wish. Should I really feel excited about being away from my precious offspring? Third, her schedule and behavior will be completely out of my control (there’s that control issue popping up again). I have to trust someone else to make sure she eats and drinks her sippy, to lay her down and help her nap. What if she hits or pushes another child, or throws a fit because someone took the toy she was playing with? Will the worker handle the situation the way I would? Fourth, I fear judgement from the workers and other moms. What if C is a spoiled brat and I don’t know it? What if I’m depriving her of rest because I didn’t make a cover for her nap mat? What if she turns into a bossy diva, ordering the other kids around? I know these worries and fears are irrational, but I still dealt with them. I’m sure it will get easier for both of us, and that we will come to love Thursdays, but the transition was much harder than I thought.
What about you? How did you handle your child’s first daycare situation? With confidence they’d be well taken care of, or worry and guilt? I hope I’m not the only one who went a little cray cray…

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