Maria enjoying dress up at school

I drove downtown today to head to an appointment to tour the YWCA in hopes of volunteering there in the future.  I got thrown back in time as I drove down Spring Street towards the heart of downtown.  I had taken that route for eight years – four of them with my daughter to and from daycare at Bright Horizon’s at Grant Hospital and two of them with my daughter and son.  

I had placed my daughter in the Grant daycare because it was directly across the street from my law firm.  I still remember those first few months of dropping her off at daycare, age three months old.  It devastated me to drop her off in the morning because she always cried – always.  The daycare providers tried to console her but unfortunately they had lots of other screaming babies to console (although I would always unreasonably expect that my sweet baby should get all of the attention – not those other babies).  What made it worse, too, was that I would go over in the mid-morning or early afternoon to see her, and she would be crying when I walked in the room.  

This pissed me off beyond belief.  I would remain calm and pick her up and try to talk to the girls about different ways to calm her down.  They would listen in between feeding other babies, burping them, changing their diapers.  I was yet another neurotic parent telling them how to do their job in their eyes, I am sure.  Heck, they were only making $8.00 an hour to take care of my child for eight hours – what could I expect?  I always felt bad for not speaking up more about the hourly wage that these gals were making; it is such a travesty that the women and men who watch over our children and care for them while we are off at work make the same or less money per hour than a valet or grocery store bagger. 

I never have come to terms with leaving them at daycare while I go off and work.  I still feel conflicted when I think about my choice to retain a career.  There are nights when I watch a certain scene of a movie or read a story on-line, and a flood of emotions come over me and I feel like I am the worst mom ever and I think my children will grow up to feel abandoned and lonely and despondent.  I don’t think that will ever go away – subside, yes, but never vanish forever. 

Maria grew into her own at the daycare, and of course, was the little munchball that everyone wanted to hold and play with through the day.  So, it got easier to some extent.  She still was never the type to jump up and down for school (and still isn’t) but at least she was not crying hysterically everyday when I left.  Now, I take her to her new school closer to our house (she started there in September 2009) and she begs to return to that old school because it was so much fun and she misses her teachers.  So, I guess it wasn’t the dungeon that I always made myself feel it was when I left her in the morning.  

It is funny how the same routine consumes you day in and day out, and you feel like there is no way that you will ever forget the monotony of it all.  How you will never forget the devastation and loneliness and sorrow that encompassed your entire self as you tip-toed out of the infant room trying to calm your little one as she sobbed for you to stay.   How you sank deep in your chair at work bombarded with thoughts about whether you were doing the right thing, how your child would be affected by your decision, what you could do to make it better. 

But then they get older and they are less fragile, and they enjoy interaction with friends, and you see them developing, and they say something that is so heartfelt and so enlightening that you think “they are coming along just fine….” 

My darling, happy daughter in her Mexican dress

And those moments from the past, that heartbreak from the past, that confusion from the past, does subside greatly and you feel hope rising up.     

My goofy, muffin-loving son

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