The day I left the hospital with my itty bitty brand new daughter strapped securely into her car seat , I marvelled at the fact that it took just two days for the doctors and nurses to determine that I – a person who had never been up close and personal with a newborn before – was qualified to take this precious (and totally defenseless) little person home. “How could they know such a thing?” I wondered, bracing myself for a lifetime of uncertainty.
One year and a few battle scars later, I faced the terrifying prospect of determining whether someone else was qualified to look after that same precious (albeit bigger) human being.
Someone far wiser than I once said that having a child is like letting your heart walk around outside of your body. I thought I understood what that meant as I watched Boss Lady take her first bite of solid food and those first fumbling steps, but it wasn’t until I had to hand her off to a stranger that the real implications hit me.
The idea that she’d be spending her days with said stranger stressed me enough to burn off a little of the residual baby weight. (bonus!) How could I possibly know on such short notice whether these people were qualified and nurturing, let alone a good fit?
Panicked by the fact that I had little choice, I went ahead, holding onto the knowledge that kids survive daycare all the time. Armed with a recommendation from a trusted relative, I registered her with a daycare run by an experienced woman who struck me as loving and warm.
Imagine my surprise when, on the second day, she came home with two firsts: a cold and a diaper rash. I’d expected the cold at some point (though I was dismayed by how soon it popped up), but the rash gave me pause. How long would she have to have been left alone for that to happen? How is that even possible when she still eats every two hours?
Just like that, the trust that made it possible to leave my screaming child in the arms of a stranger and head off to work was gone. Within two days, I’d registered her in a new (also well-recommended) daycare.
She still bawls for every dropoff (and most pickups) and I still struggle with concerns about whether she’d be better off with me, but (judging from all the lectures about her menu) I know this daycare provider is on the ball.
I also know that there will be no point at which I will be entirely comfortable with her in the care of anyone but myself. So, I resign myself to the anxiety and remind myself that a good reputation after more than 20 years in the business means something. Even if she is convinced that my sweet potato, lentils and papaya-eating kiddo would be better off with some stew in her life.
Calisa is the exhausted mother of an energetic, (generally) good-natured and ridiculously sharp toddler whose sole mission in life is obviously to keep mommy on her toes. She spends much of her time reading board books, changing diapers and saying “Ah-ah-ah! Mommy said ‘NO’!” while counting down the hours to bedtime.