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Our first day apart
Oh, I know it sounds so dramatic, but yesterday was indeed my first day apart from my son--and his from me. Apparently we both did better than I thought we would, but it wasn't easy.
I suspect that it will never be easy to separate. After all this little one spent nine (ten) months inside me--how much closer to a person can you get? Then, luckily for both of us (very lucky in this country where parents are expected to pop back to work after six weeks like nothing happened) I was able to spend extra quality time with him through most of the summer.
Now, those days are over, it seems, and the little one is off in daycare. I am spending a few days "transitioning" back to work. I drop him off in the morning and then visit him periodically throughout the day. I pick him up early and we stroll back up the mile-ish hill back to my house. No joke. It's an insane hill. And I can fit back into my pre-pregnancy jean shorts, so I have that hill to thank.
Anyway, getting back to the story, yesterday was the first day we dropped little Mercer off at daycare. I was terrified but excited at the same time. This whole process--that of carrying a child, having a child, caring for a child, now partially parting with my child and sharing him with others--has taught and continues to teach me so much about myself. I always thought therapy was great, but if you ever want to know who you really are have a baby!
Mercer did better than I did with daycare. The caregivers there are so organized and on top of everything, not to mention super sweet and considerate. They know their charges well and do whatever it takes to make them happy. One woman mentioned to me that even though there are set feeding and napping times they never force a child to do either. It's little things like that that make such a huge difference.
After our initial drop off my husband and I went to get a cup of coffee. I was fine. I went back alone and just watched. My baby was not hysterical or upset that I'd left. In fact, he was sleeping. He was asleep even though there was music playing and a few babies were crying for their bottles (which were immediately forthcoming. I don't know how these women do it, but they are nothing if not on top of their game!).
I just watched and started to tear up so decided it was best if I just went home. I called a few friends of mine and my husband to help me through it. I ended up being ok. Not great, but ok.
When I got home the house felt so very empty. It was that moment that sealed everything for me. People say little babies have no personalities, that they're too young to really be different from other babies or have a presence, but that is simply not the case.
My son fills our house just as he fills my life. He fills my soul with this laughter and light that cannot properly be put into words. And now someone else is getting to enjoy him! Sheesh!
When I went back at nap time, which is really just quiet time when they turn off the lights and speak softly and hang out and relax, Mercer was once again asleep. I think he was probably a tad overstimulated since the whole environment, all the adults and now the addition of other babies was so new to him.
The caregivers had tucked his little blanket around him--again, another nice, caring touch that makes it so much easier to leave him. I know these women care about my son and the other children at the daycare. I know.
Still, not seeing him awake I wasn't able to measure how things were going. He wasn't crying, at least, though.
When I went to pick him up at the end of the day I was more than ready to have him back in my life. I'd missed him terribly but tried to keep busy and get as much accomplished as possible. I asked one of the caregivers how things went and she replied that he liked everyone there, which was a good sign. He'd gotten fussy only when he wanted to be fed or wanted to nap, which were immediately addressed.
I actually figured things would turn out this way. The baby doesn't know this new routine is essentially the way things are going to be from now on. I do know, and I think that's why I am struggling. I know that this is how things are going to be from now on. Once the little one catches on he may or may not like it.
Hey--I don't know. After all, he gets to be with other babies and to hang out with a bunch of super nice adults whose mission is to make him happy. If only I could get that kind of attention! My new job is wonderful and they are so very flexible with me when it comes to my son, but I think Mercer is getting the better end of the bargain.
As it should be.