This morning, I turned in the paperwork to register my son, K, for full-time daycare starting in August. As I passed the registration sheet to the director, my heart broke while I simultaneously felt a sense of relief.
Come August, my son will be two years old. I’m lucky that I was allowed to bring him to work with me for the first year of his life. As he grew during that year, his newfound mobility made it difficult to keep him entertained. At around 10 months, we hired a part-time nanny who watched him two days a week and allowed me a few hours to work baby-free. When he turned a year old, I decided two days a week wasn’t enough, so we put him in part-time preschool on the days opposite those he was with his nanny. K thrived in both situations, and while I was sad that he wasn’t with me as much, I felt comfortable that he was safe and loved in both childcare arrangements. I had two full days and two partial days of baby-free work that allowed me to get what I needed done, but also allowed me to spend time with K. The best of both worlds, I thought.
But as K becomes more mobile and more interested in exploring his surroundings, it becomes increasingly difficult to have him at work with me. Two weeks ago, we received registration forms from his preschool for the 2016–2017 school year. Sitting at home, I automatically filled out the form for part-time preschool, only looking at the form for full-time daycare to note the cost of the “young twos,” the class K would be in. I told my husband the price, which was cheaper that the arrangement we had at the time, and he suggested we think about signing him up.
My immediate response was that I was against full-time daycare. I didn’t struggle to get pregnant for all those years to allow someone else to raise my baby! But after talking to my mom (a daycare teacher), friends who had their children in daycare, K’s current preschool teacher, and debating it over and over in my head, we decided to go ahead and sign him up.
I still have some reservations and guilt, mostly around the fact that I don’t have to work; I work because I enjoy what I do, and it gives me a sense of self (and a few times to pee without being watched). I’m afraid that K will resent me later in life for choosing work over him. I’m afraid that it’ll be more difficult to parent him on the weekends because he’s more used to his teacher’s rules and discipline than mine. I’m worried about a lot of things.
But I’m also excited for him. I’m excited that he’ll make new friends and play with toys we don’t have at home. He’ll go on field trips and play on the playground when the weather’s nice, things I’m not able to do while working. The school he’s going to is also big on teaching, so he’ll learn his letters, numbers, colors, and more before stepping foot in a kindergarten classroom.
There are still 5 months before this big transition happens, so I’m sure I’ll find other things to fret over. For now, I’m going to focus on loving my boy and enjoying his company.