When I arrived to pick her up she was too engrossed in play to notice me. I saw her right away, climbing around with the other kids and clutching a crayon, but she looked strangely unfamiliar to me. Maybe it was just because she was wearing a different shirt than the one I left her in. But that wardrobe change also signified something more – an adventure, an experience, a mess that I hadn’t witnessed and didn’t even need to know the story of. The first full morning at daycare.
Bridget and I have been apart from each other lots by now. The more heart-wrenching firsts of childcare are mostly a year in the past already. Now we’re both more than ready for daycare.
Curious social creature that she is, Bridget will thrive I’m certain with this chance to form relationships with mixed age kids and to learn all kinds of new things – already how to use scissors, the Spanish words for milk and car, and the brilliant idea to kiss on the back of the head when you get the urge to give defenseless little babies loads of kisses.
Meanwhile, I can reclaim some time to read, to write, to think, to pursue other kinds of work, and then I can return to my daughter refreshed and better able to remain present, focused, patient, and fun.
But it’s still bittersweet to let her go, to let her grow these few paces further away from me. So my heart swelled when she turned from her game, saw I had arrived to pick her up, and called out “mama!” Yes, my love, and you will always be my baby.