I really do believe this is a great situation for him. The social interaction he will get and the new developmental adventures he will have will be good for him. He'll spend four mornings a week at a nearby family daycare, and then afternoons with his dad and one day a week with my mom. The daycare is run by a lovely and loving, experienced and professional woman and her two enthusiastic young assistants. He will be in a safe, nurturing environment and I have every confidence in their ability to take great care of him!
To prepare him for the change, we took him to play there a few times in the last couple of weeks. After some initial timidity, he seemed very quickly to get comfortable there and with the other kids. (All of the riding cars and balls and other toys freshly available to him certainly helped!) He was ready.
I'm not an overly sentimental person, so I was surprised by the anxiety and sense of loss that crept up on me as his big day approached. Afterall, I've been back to work for more than a year and he's spent lots of time being well cared for by others, particular his wonderful nanny all last school year.
But, he's always been at home, with his daddy just down the hall in his office. It was always easy to imagine exactly where my boy was, what he was doing, and what crazy antics he was up to. Now it feels like we're sending him off into the big wide world, out of our sphere of influence. No longer will we know of his every emotional ache and physical pain. No longer will we celebrate with him his every triumph.
So, yesterday morning, I shed a few tears. They came as I struggled to get him buckled in his car seat. He squirmed and protested, and I felt the sting come to my eyes. I want so much for the few minutes I will get to spend with my child each morning to be enjoyable - for both of us - and this wasn't a good start to the new chapter.
I remember judging harshly other mothers who've expressed angst over their kids going off to preschool or daycare. Come on, I thought. This is an important step in building the independence and self-confidence we want in our children.
As M. and I watched Dylan settled easily into his place at the table, surrounded by his new friends, watching attentively as a fun story was read to the group, I realized it isn't about worrying about how others will care for him. It's about missing him. And to be a good parent, there will be many, many more occasions when I will have to let go, for his sake, even when it's painful for me.
Apparently, it isn't just Dylan who is growing.