Today I left my baby with strangers.
He was fine.
I was, ah, emotional. But okay. I had my little moment as I drove home, wondering if he’d be okay, wishing I didn’t have to leave him. But then I thanked God that he is nearly three, and a happy, well adjusted boy for all that. I am SO grateful that I wasn’t having to leave my six month old at daycare, that this moment came when he was ready for it. Ready. Not forced, even though it’s happened now because of my study needs. It still fits his needs and wants. He likes his preschool, and he’s going to have a great time. Reassuring when I can sometimes feel like this degree gives him the short end of the deal. I’m really, honestly, truly blown away at how this whole thing has been orchestrated. It certainly wasn’t by any of my doing. Being able to have last year off study was exactly what I and my family needed right at that time. But going back to study is also just the right thing for the right time now.
I’ve also figured out some of the emotions. The issue is not so much that I’m leaving my boy. It’s that I’ve had to leave him with people who really don’t know him yet. They don’t know what he likes or dislikes (even though I did write them a one-page tome on Munchkin’s personality!). They don’t know how to settle him when he is upset. I kind of feel like that’s my special place in his life. Mummy knows what word he is trying to say, Mummy has the right cuddles when he is upset, Mummy is there when needed. So today it was hard to relinquish some of that to his teachers. Wonderful, loving, talented teachers, but still comparative strangers. But of course, they won’t remain strangers. Give us a few weeks. That’s the thing, we’ve had to rush into this a bit more than I would naturally be inclined to. Study again. Sigh. But it’s okay. The boy is resilient and friendly. He will be okay. So will his mother (so I tell myself).
I’m definitely glad he will be staying for two full days, rather than having to do this every week day morning! Lots of travel, as our centre is fifteen-twenty minutes drive away. Now I realise that’s not far really, just further than many others we could have chosen (but didn’t ‘cos they aren’t nearly as good!). It just means I lose up to two hours each day in the drop off/pick up run between the driving, shoes, settling in, etc. I got an hour and fifty minutes to study while he was at kindy today. Got a good amount done, but will definitely be needing more next week.
The other thing I think has been making this all more glaringly obvious, this ‘losing my baby’ feeling, is that Munchkin is our only child. If we had another child at home, perhaps I wouldn’t notice quite so much that he is growing up far too quickly? I’m not sure, but maybe? There’d still be the baby cuddles, the cooing and bouncing, the learning to walk and talk. For us, that phase is now completely over. It’s been over for awhile, I just didn’t consciously realise and let it go. I’m doing that now. I’m realising that I now no longer have a baby. He’s not even a toddler really. He’s a preschooler. Oh my, my big preschooler!
I took photos. He sat, resigned. Tolerant. Yup, I’m already getting the tolerant look. He let me photograph, but was really just wanting to know what he was allowed to eat from his lunch on the way to kindy (Mummy having realised that morning tea at 10am is a LONG time to wait for a small boy who had breakfast between 6:30-7:30am).
He’s now sound asleep, wiped out from the day. And that was with a sleep at lunchtime. Ugh. I can’t say that I’m looking forward to next week when sleep might not be a happening thing with all the goings on and interesting stuff at kindy!
But I’m glad that we’ve done it. Glad that we chose well, glad that we were able to wait this long before he had to go to preschool (it is a complete miracle when you think of the study/work juggle the past couple of years and I am truly grateful).