Its barely January and we’re already working on a big change in our family: We’re going to change day care providers.
I cannot even express how torn we are about it either.
Sean has been with our current provider — K — since he was 4 months old. She’s been with us through all his breathing issues, doctors appointments, and tests. She calls Sean “kook-a-boo” — we have no idea how that came about, but its this little endearment that they have for him. Allie is their “princess” or “angel”. Every morning after we arrive, Allie reaches for K with a giant smile on her face while Sean runs to the rocking chair to watch “Sesame Street” with her husband. They’ll sit together for hours and rock. Her husband is tall — very tall — and his rocking would probably make me motion sick. But the kids love it. The kids love them. I trust them.
That’s why this is so hard.
But Sean is 2 — nearly 3. He’s the oldest kid at this day care and he needs more socialization. He needs more stimulation. More action. More structure. And we’ve found a day-care center nearby that we think that, in time, he’ll love. They have a giant fenced yard with tons of play structures. They do arts projects multiple times a week. They have tumbling mats and story times and free play and sing songs and have tons of dinosaur and animal toys. He’ll be with about 6 other kids and be supervised by 2 teachers. It’s a small setting by normal facility standards, which is good for him. Eventually he can move into the 3-year-old class and into pre-K. Hopefully, he’ll transition into kindergarten with some of the same kids and will have built-in friends.
Allie is more interested in other kids than Sean. When we toured the center, she wanted to get on the floor, to go up to several kids and check them out. She wanted to see what they were snacking on. (She probably wanted some of those snacks too.) She was interested in everything and everyone. They have a toddler playground for the small children, tumbling mats, building blocks, a nap room, and all other sorts of goodies for the younger set. Story time and singing corners and baby dolls. I know my social butterfly would have a blast.
And — as any change regarding the two of them will — it makes me nervous. Because even though I like this day care center, it’s a CENTER. Its not K. Its not her house. I don’t have a relationship with the teachers. They don’t know my kids.
They’re not going to reach out for “My Allie” every morning. Or take Sean to McDonald’s for French fries or to a local bakery for cinnamon rolls as a treat. They won’t bake my kids cookies, just because they might like them or give them birthday or Christmas or Easter or whatever silly holiday presents. They won’t bring them home a stuffed animal from their vacation.
For the past couple of years, we’ve been spoiled: K has treated our kids like family.
I’ve been able to go to work and feel secure in that my kids are happy and being well-cared for. Now, more than ever, I’m feeling the mommy guilt. Especially when I talk to some stay-at-home parents I know who will be sending their little ones to pre-school part-time (2-4 hours) for two or three days a week.
That kind of change would be so much easier to manage. Small bites. Small increments. Easing the kids into the new situation and having the flexibility to be able to stay and help out in class if needed.
Sean is a child of routine. He doesn’t do well with change. This is a gigantic change, and I have no idea how it will go over with him. Will he love it immediately and be totally fine or will he give me hives for months until he slowly adjusts to the new place? Will he be a constant boomerang? Will he be able to handle it? Am I over-reacting and over-analyzing everything?
Will I ever get a restful night’s sleep again?
Sometimes I feel like society is setting mothers up for failure — like we’ve been given a trick question: How do you provide for your family financially yet be there to provide for them in every other sense?
Is there even an answer?