Last week I was an unintentional ass on Facebook. I posted something related to parenting and I was all "yes! this! I love it!" and it hurt some feelings. What I should have said was "yes! this! I love it! It pertains to the situation we have encountered with our specific child and our specific family!" or something like that. That sounds snarky but that's not my intent. I genuinely feel like I should have clarified why I was posting it and why I agreed with it. Because we're all just trying to love our kids and do our best, right? We're trying to make choices that fit our kids and fit our families, and not mess things up too badly in the process. We don't need the added pressure of outsiders rolling their eyes or spouting statistics when what we really need is love and support and high-fives and gin. All the gin.
Which is a really long-winded way of saying that I could really use some love and support and high-fives and gin right now.
I'm struggling to write this because my privilege oozes from every word but I'm at a complete loss and I need help. I need to hear what worked and didn't work for you. I need tips and advice and non-judgmental words. This may get long and weepy. I apologize in advance.
Shawn and I put Grady in 2-days / week daycare at the beginning of December. Since leaving my job in 2012, I've been doing freelance stuff from home. Grady is the type of kid who doesn't believe in playing quietly by himself. This means that I can get snippets of work done during the day but I don't get long, uninterrupted blocks of time to work until after he goes to bed. Which isn't until after 9pm most nights. (This is where I ask you to not judge our sleeping habits. Sleep is a hot topic in our home. Always has been. Grady is a night owl. We've adjusted. We would probably be stricter about him going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier if I didn't have such a hard time getting going in the mornings. Lying in bed is painful for me. My bones and joints ache. I do not get restful sleep. Mornings are hard. Oh look at me getting all defensive! I'll stop now.)
So. Grady would go to bed late-ish and I was starting work at 10-o-clock at night and sometimes working until 1 or 2 in the morning. It wasn't a long-term workable situation. So we decided that even though it wasn't going to make our financial situation any better (the extra hours I'm able to work are completely eaten up by daycare fees), it would make our quality of life better. I wouldn't be working until the wee hours of the morning. I would have two days per week to feel like my work was important and relevant (my job has to come second to Shawn's right now because he is the primary breadwinner. My thoughts on this topic could fill pages so let's just leave it for now, okay?) And we thought Grady would benefit from having more social interaction with kids his age.
We figured there would be an adjustment period. Grady is very attached to me and he's just a cuddly guy in general. But we weren't prepared for the full-on battles and rage we've encountered.
Our daycare is great. We started visiting with Grady in November. We'd join them for circle time or lunch. We went to play for full afternoons and one day Grady just skipped down the ramp and said "bye, mommy!" and I left for four hours without any trouble.
But then it came time for full days. The first time I left Grady for the full day there were a few tears when I left but nothing major. The second time? Full-on meltdown mode. It's getting worse every time. This morning he started crying before we even reached the front door of the daycare. He was in full hysterics by the time I left. I walked away from Grady as he cried and screamed my name and I don't think I'm strong enough to do it again. It goes against every instinct I have.
The daycare ladies tell me that it's normal. That a quick drop-off is necessary so as to not prolong the tears and screaming. That my presence only makes things worse. That within five minutes of my departure Grady is calm. I trust them. I trust that they know what they're doing and they know kids. But ... they don't know my kid.
Last night after daycare Grady was a barnacle. He was upset and clingy and cried over things that normally wouldn't bother him. He woke up at 4:30am screaming and crying and could not be consoled. This morning we battled over everything - getting dressed, eating breakfast, wearing his jacket outside, and we both ended up in tears multiple times. He is not adjusting.
Does daycare just not work for some kids? At what point do we reevaluate and say "this isn't right for us." When do we listen to what Grady is saying (or is this one of those situations where Grady doesn't get to dictate what happens because we're the parents and we know what's best for him?)
According to the daycare ladies, Grady cannot move out of the infant room into the preschool room by law until he is 2.5 years old, even though we all agree that Grady would do much better in the preschool room. Canada's excellent parental leave policy means that there aren't any kids under the age of one in the infant room but Grady is more verbal than all the kids there, even the ones who are older than he is. The preschool room has daily art (his favourite) and more activities than the infant room. The infant room has more daycare ladies, though, and gives him more opportunity for one-on-one cuddles and comfort should he need it. Grady can move to the preschool room in February and the daycare ladies are holding a spot for him. Should we suffer through January in the hopes that he adjusts better to the preschool room in February?
I am at a complete loss. I have cried and fretted so much but I can't figure out the perfect solution. We've asked Grady why he gets upset and he says that he misses me too much. I tell him I'll always pick him up and I'm never far away. He has a special stuffy that is only for daycare and before drop off I "fill it up with kisses" so that he can give it a squeeze during the day when he misses me. We talk about how much fun he has with his "fwends" and how it's important for him to play with kids so I can work (so when Grady is home I don't have to work.) I don't know what else to do.
What is your childcare situation? Have you struggled through an adjustment period that broke your heart? I need help, friends. I'm drowning.