Recently, we picked up a kid from daycare for the last time. This was a known event, an understood timeframe, but even still, the grief of the day came quickly. I found myself in tears more than once in the days leading up to the Last Day, dreading the goodbyes.
In processing why I’m so sad, I’ve realized that in grieving the end of daycare, I’m really grieving two things:
The end of a phase childhood
The end of our daycare experience means that our baby really isn’t a baby anymore. In fact, he’s about to start pre-school. His days are about to get more structured, and he’ll start a new school, a “big” school, with his older siblings. All of these things are right and good and the next step for many families, but also the end of the baby/toddler phase in our house, and for that, I am sad.
The end of these relationships
The women at our daycare have been in our lives for the past six years. We met them before our oldest was two. During those years they have loved and cared for my kids like they were family. They answered my questions and offered tips about sleep problems and picky eating. They even did the bulk of the potty training! They have provided moral support when my working mom heart needed encouragement. They sent pictures to remind me how much fun my kids were having while I was away. I brought home crafts the teachers had curated to teach about some theme or topic. And as someone whose extended family is hours away, I’m going to be so sad not to see our daycare family regularly. Our extra aunties have been such a blessing, and I’m going to miss seeing their loving smiles each day.
The sadness I’m feeling at the end of our daycare days seems to be a reflection of the gratitude I feel for this season.
I’m feeling grateful
For a safe place for my children to play
For creative and fun projects to spark their interest in learning
For good and healthy food (Ms. Pat’s red beans are still my kids’ favorite!)
For a peaceful space for them to nap
For friendships they’ve made that have lasted years
And I’m looking forward as well
To a few years of having kids at one school
To new memories and new friends
To growing kids and their changing stages
So to all the daycare mamas, dropping littles off on the way to work, and then rushing through traffic to pick up at the end of a busy day, feeling like the daycare days may never end… they do. And to the daycare teachers, wiping noses, passing out snacks, calming littles for naptime, and all the million little things that may never be seen — you are treasures. Thank you for loving our babies so well.