The Struggle is Real: My Paralyzing Fear of Getting Ready for Daycare
Daycare was something I agonized over for months.
A part of my experience with PPD/PPA was a fixation on daycare. Although I desperately wanted to go back to work, I hated the idea of anyone caring for my baby besides myself and my husband.
I also resented an assumption that I heard a lot: that our parents could just take care of her. Although that would have been a mental and financial relief, we didn’t have that option. It made me so upset when someone would ask why we hadn’t considered the obvious choice of passing her off to her grandparents while we worked.
Although we are lucky to have all four parents alive and have a relationship with them, a combination of living far away, unwillingness and health issues made caring for baby impossible. And it hurt when people would push the issue and question why we didn’t opt for support that wasn’t available when we desperately wanted it to be.
Reading about it somewhat after the postpartum haze has lifted (not completely, but significantly), I realized that my hesitancy to relinquish control of how my daughter was cared for was a common feeling of postpartum anxiety. I had intense trust issues that even I could admit weren’t reasonable and couldn’t stand people holding her. It made me ill to think about not seeing her for the day. Just picture a ferocious dragon guarding its gold... you’ll have some idea.
It was something I battled with constantly. Asking the advice of other moms who had sent their kids to daycare and reading about people’s experiences helped because it took the mystery away – I knew what to expect, the challenges and some strategies to make the transition easier for our family.
My therapist also gave some wisdom that, while it may seem obvious, was what I really needed to hear at the time. She told me that every time I thought about daycare, I had to make a list of anything I could do that day to make that easier. So once we applied feverishly for daycares and did an alarming about of research, there wasn’t anything to do.
Exactly, she said, if you can’t do anything today, you’ve done everything you can and can file this away for down the road. Enjoy your time being her primary caregiver while you’re on mat leave, and by the time you are back to work, your thoughts on the whole thing may be very different.
This was some pretty solid advice because, by the time I returned to work, I knew it was time. As an only child, the first kid in our friend group, and a pandemic baby, my daughter was showing signs of boredom and loneliness that broke my tender mom heart. I knew even if I wasn’t ready, she was.