When I became a mother for the first time I confronted many of my fears and insecurities, but perhaps none as momentous as my fear of daycare.
Maybe fear isn’t the right word, I wasn’t afraid of it, but I had nothing positive to say about it.
In my experience, daycare was hell on earth, and the thought of sending my precious snowflakes into that inferno nearly caused me to break out in hives.
Most of my opinions stemmed from my own childhood experiences. My daycare providers were largely irresponsible and inattentive, with the exception of one wonderful woman who cared for me as if I were her own. She was one of my, nearly ten, different daycare providers over the years.
When my husband and I talked about starting a family we knew we would need daytime childcare since we both worked outside the home.
After the birth of our first child, we were fortunate enough to have a family member care for our daughter while we were away. We added our son to the mix two years later. Knowing the kids were with someone who loved and cared for them as much as we did was such a relief.
But eventually things changed, as they often do, and we found ourselves, again, in need of childcare.
At the time my kids were one and three years old. When I learned our family member would no longer be able to provide childcare, my immediate reaction was panic, followed by sadness, and eventually I found myself under a blanket, binge-eating Zebra Cakes while Sarah McLachlan played softly in the background.
“I can’t do this! I can’t send them to daycare!” I sobbed to my husband, “What if something happens to them?”
My husband’s daycare experiences were all very positive, and while it was hard for him to understand why I was suddenly a blubbering, hot mess, he was very patient and supportive. He talked me off the ledge and pried the box of Zebra cakes from my hands.
I was fully prepared to abandon my career—whatever I had to do to protect my babies from the horrors of public daycare. But, instead, at my husband’s behest, I reluctantly agreed to do some research on the topic.
I read pediatric research journals, google reviews, and even Facebook comments regarding all things related to childcare. I needed all the information I could get my hands on if I was going to make an informed decision.
I needed to know they would be safe, and well cared for.
To my absolute surprise, the research suggested that children often benefit from daycare, and aren’t doomed to live in a van down by the river—even if both parents work outside the home. Furthermore, it seemed my personal daycare experience was the exception, not the rule.
When it came to finding the right place, there were a lot of options. I decided against an in-home daycare in-favor of a childcare center. This was the best fit for my family, given the options in our area.
I researched each one to the fullest extent of my abilities.
I toured facilities. I spoke with owners and directors. I read reviews. I talked to friends and, yes, I shamelessly Facebook-stalked the childcare staff. If you are doing a keg-stand in your profile picture, I know about it.
After months of searching and some heartfelt deliberation I found the place.
The teachers were thoughtful, and patient, and kind. It was obvious caring for children was more than just their job.
The first day was rough for all of us. There was a lot of crying. The kids were pretty upset too. I spent most of the day staring at the clock and texting their teachers.
I was that mom—the mom I vowed never to be—a helicoptering nut-bag, needlessly checking on my children.
But, after a few days, and roughly 714 text messages, I began to feel more comfortable with my decision, and as time passed, I realized how much the kids were enjoying their new classes and friends.
Now, over a year later, it’s obvious I made the right choice. My kids are happy and thriving.
I have an amazing relationship with their teachers, and I never worry they aren’t being cared for. I don’t know how the teachers deal with all those crazy kids all day, but thank God they do, so mommas like me can have some peace of mind.
What’s important to remember, and what I had easily forgotten, is, one experience is not equal to another. There are too many variables in life to assume things will always end with the same results.
Being a parent means you have to make tough choices, and do what’s best for your family. Sometimes that means going outside your comfort zone and opening your mind to something new and scary.
For me, that terrifying jump was absolutely worth it—my childcare providers are part of my village, and I don’t know where I would be without them.