Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Todaycare: Transitioning into Working Mother

The transition period has come upon us and you know what...not a tear (by me) shed though they certainly welled up a bit. To my surprise the last two days have been pretty amazing in that awe inspiring life is changing and we are facing it tall kind of way. Yesterday I struggled to wake up as early as I would have liked, but we got to the daycare center (which was at an alternate though closer location) slightly before 8am (my goal is 7:30am...we will see how that goes). Once we entered we were met by Addy's new teacher Karen who acclimated us to the environment (although temporary) and chatted me up for hours. She let me ask every question imaginable, made me feel completely at home, and talked shop about what I deem 'professional parenting'. There are sadly people who do not fall into this category, and working mom or not, to me, my real full-time always-on-call job is MOTHER.
Day One: Addison decided to try to mimic the other babies.
While at the center I got to meet tons of staff, participate in feeding time, nurse Addison in a rocker (which I don't have at home), hang out with everyone during yard time (while Addison shockingly napped), watch Addy interact with new babies, and talk away with all of the ladies who will be part of our extended family. The entire day felt like one huge hug. One of the highlights of the experience for me was when I got to talking with the educational director Jane and I learned that I taught her son last year. Not only that, but instantly I recalled him because he was one of my stars, a real gem of a teen. As I was leaving she told me, "You had my baby and now I have yours." I love when life has those beautiful full-circle moments.

On the door of the infant room--Addison existing outside of my world!!
From 12pm-2pm I left Addison and decided to stop by my school to get a feel for coming back and make mental notes about what needs to be done. I am like a kid myself in that I NEED to go back to my job earlier than the start date to literally soak up the aura and acclimate myself to going back. I feel a recharge from the energy and depending on the 'air' of the building I can have a sense for the type of year that lay ahead. My feelings for this year= AWESOME. Shocked? I am too. Not only do I have a well balanced program I am in my own room (as in the same as last year AND no one else is teaching in it) AND...DRUM ROLL please: I have a smartboard in my room. I felt jilted for the past few years as I, a tech-savvy chicka, had not been put in rooms with smartboards and was forced to schlep equipment all over or not use any at all. All of these factors are SERIOUSLY heaven for a teacher....I could wax on and on but the key point-- I will be able to be more present for my daughter and I am SO THANKFUL. AND, honestly I felt invigorated and inspired to work again...which made me, for at least a moment feel like wonder woman.

Warning, quasi-bragging alert! To add to all of the good fortune of the day everyone at the center raved about Addison--even calling her the perfect baby on many occasions. The staff was shocked at how alert and observant Addison can be, how petite yet developed she is, and they kept telling me that she will do everything fast. I kind of knew that and brace myself every day. However, I also know Addison gets extra attention because she is going to be the ONLY girl in her class so all of the ladies were lavishing her with love and praise and ooey-gooey gaga adoration immediately.

Now I definitely don't need to have one at home!

Then came today: phase two. I brought Addison to the regular center and spent close to an hour bringing in all of her things, talking more protocol and routine with the teacher, and helping the baby become acclimated to her new daytime home. I marveled over all of the things with her name on it, watched her interact in a new world, and basically felt like I was having an outer body experience. At points I waned to cry from the gravity of it all, but I felt calm and also antsy to get things done and let Addison adjust. I decided I would leave her for four hours and get as much accomplished at home as I could (as if four hours were twenty). While at home I tried to pump at around the times I will try to at work and got a lot less done than I wanted (not surprised) but enough that I didn't get too down on myself. I managed to pump a good amount and was happy that when I went to pick her up she had not drank the second back up bottle I had left (which felt like I had just gotten the lead in a race). BUT, what was not so great was hearing Addison SCREAMING when I go there. My tiny pterodactyl showed her other side. Her teacher laughed and said I was right to call my daughter vocal. It turns out that she cried for a good portion of the time I was gone though there were some bright moments too. My gut reaction was to feel AWFUL, especially because I left with such ease since she was having  a great time and didn't notice me. I was red-faced with guilt, shame, anxiety...you-name-it...but I also knew that this was all part of the process. The teachers reassured me and caught me up about her day. It literally killed a piece of me to see Addison's eyes so puffy from tears...but I let her be rocked by one of her teachers and I offered only comfort not total solace as usual. I realized that my girl, who is naturally so independent needs to learn to feel secure somewhere other than in her mama's arms. I thwarted any feelings of resentment and stayed positive since we really have no other choice. I must go back to work and this daycare is not only highly coveted but also right behind my school (granted there is a football field sized parking lot in between BUT seriously I couldn't have found something more convenient).

Plays well with others...
After what felt like an eternity I took Addison and nursed her there. Ms. Karen made it clear that they want us to feel like we are all family and to take comfort in the space. So, as much as I wanted to run home crying and then cuddle my baby we both relaxed ourselves (as much as we could with the cacophony of crying babies) and during that time my mind went to so many places. I felt very sad and disillusioned during some rocks but also hopeful and happy that my daughter would learn so much more than I can teach her alone. Another life conundrum.

After Addy was fed and happy again I realized she was back to herself and so I followed suit. The rest of the evening was productive (of course not as much as I wanted it to be) but it was full of continued routines, optimism, love, and lots of baby laughs. I surprised Addison with a new addition to our living room--a much larger matted surface area for her to play on--AND a visit from one of her four sets of grandparents. She was so happy and even took steps while I was holding her up!! Leave it to this little one to snap me back to the reality that life moves so fast and if you focus on the joys of the present moment or the fact that painful experiences can also be fleeting then life can be so very beautiful.

Addy's surprise upon returning!

Happy baby with a smile that lights up room, takes breaths away, and cures
almost any ailment I can think of.

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