Updated: Jan 31, 2021
After a year and a half, we decided to enroll Laila into daycare. Ms. Janet had been a wonderful addition to our family and Laila adored her. We felt as if it was time for Laila to become more comfortable around other children and to develop skills needed for school. I was also ready to return to work full time and felt more at ease with the idea of allowing other adults to share in her care. We chose a daycare down the street from our house and had dropped Laila off a few days here and there before committing to full-time care. Each time we did a drop-in day, she cried the entire time she was there. I figured she just needed to acclimate to her new environment and would settle down once she started full time.
The big day finally arrived. It was time for Laila’s first day of daycare. She would be attending five days per week for full days. I entered the front door code and went through the process of checking in at the front desk. The administrative staff greeted us with big smiles and reassurances that Laila’s first day would go well. We walked to her classroom and deposited her things in her designated space. The teachers were both pleasant and I received more words of encouragement. I walked Laila over to her position on the carpet and tried to act as if it was just another day and not potentially one of the most traumatizing ones she would experience (aside from her time in the NICU). She saw me turn to walk away and I immediately heard her loud wail. I turned around to see her big eyes fill with tears. I felt torn. How could I leave my baby with strangers while I left for work? Sure, I had done it a few times before. But that had only been for a day here and there, not a full-time commitment. The teachers told me that it was ok to leave and that Laila would be fine. I walked away with my head down.
I drove to work with Laila on my mind and tears in my own eyes. Was she still crying? Would she have a calm day? Would the teachers lose patience with her? I waited for a few hours before calling to check on her. The teacher I spoke with told me Laila was still crying, but that she was fine. How was she fine if she was still crying?! I wanted to drive back to the daycare and pick her up, but I knew she would never be able to adjust if I rushed to her aid. This was one of my first lessons in letting her go even when I wanted to step in and rescue her from possible harm. In my heart, I knew she would fine. I just needed to let go and trust God.
Parenting is a challenge at any stage. Those early years are gratifying, but also full of the lessons of allowing our little ones to flourish. Laila adjusted to daycare after a few weeks and the guilt of leaving her began to wane. She grew to love daycare and her teachers, eventually getting to the point of racing me to the door at morning drop off. I learned to let go and trust God.