Daddy Beat: I’m Not Ready for Daycare
Remember taking care of your drunk friend at 2:30 AM after the party is over? Remember how you have to help change her clothes, make sure she eats something and clean up any waste she may evacuate from her body? Remember laughing at her incoherent rambling and trying to stop her from breaking the fine china? Well, it’s been 2:30 AM in my house for eight months and instead of a drunk buddy, my days have been filled with a mostly sober baby who acts pretty much the same.
Ever since January 2, I’ve been home alone with my son from 7 am until my wife gets home from work. Yes, I’m a stay-at-home working dad. For the last six months I’ve spent all day one-on-one with him while cranking out lovely articles like the ones you read here. It’s been the most challenging, tiring, and rewarding time of my life. I’ve watched my son triple in size, learn to eat solids, recognize me and develop a fascinating little baby personality literally before my eyes. No matter what I do with the rest of my life, I’ll always cherish these last few months.
Unfortunately, it’s all coming to an end.
We’re putting my son in daycare when my wife goes back to school in the fall. And I have no clue how to handle this. As you can imagine, my son and I have become so incredibly close over the last five months and the thought of not having him here with me during the day is scary. But as he gets older, my son has to get socialized and I don’t want him to get so attached to his parents that he doesn’t want to make friends.
Last week, we had our first tour of a daycare and it was a nightmare. The daycare itself wasn’t too bad. It was a nice, home-y place with a retired nurse running the show. But I hated it. I hated everything about the experience. The reality that day care was happening just became too much for me. At one point we handed him over to the head of the daycare and he started bawling. And it registered that one day I’ll drop him off at the daycare we choose for him and he’ll cry his eyes out and want me to take him with me and I’ll have to leave him there. And he’ll want me to turn around and pick him up and play. And I’ll have to leave him there.
Eventually, we did find him a really nice (I hope!) daycare (by the way, these things aren’t cheap! Sweet happy-go-lucky Jesus!). After we signed him up, they informed us of the weening process to get him ready. A week before he starts, we’ll take him to the daycare to get him acquainted with the staff and we can sit there with him to get him used to it. But I need my own weening process.
Last week, when my wife finally finished teaching for the summer, I held a graduation for my son since that would be the end of the time where it would be just the two of us—complete with a report card, valedictorian speech and a diploma. And since then, I’ve tried to make myself leave home to go to Barnes and Noble to work so I’d force myself away from my son’s side.
I made it to noon on the first day.
But with a month to go and some hard work, I think I’ll be able to manage by the time he’s in daycare. Maybe. Regardless, no matter what the future brings I’ll be able to look back on the time I spent home alone with my son as the greatest gift a parent could ever have.
David Dennis is a 27-year-old dad who’s learning on the job. He has a lovely wife, a seven-year-old stepdaughter and a new baby. You can follow his journey at @DaviddTSS