It is time for us to part ways because my son is old now. Every time you’ve told us it was time for my tiny son to move up from the one-year-old room to the two’s, to the three’s, to the four’s, I’ve had a bit of a panic attack. Over time, you’ve come to expect it. I get attached to you.
It turns out that day in, day out, I rely on you more than I rely on anyone. I see your eyes in the morning when we are navigating a morning tantrum over regular Cheerios versus Honey Nut Cheerios, the days that he refuses to put on shoes, the mornings that he pees his pants in his car seat. You calmly take my screaming, kicking little boy like nothing in the world is awry, and you smile at me. You ask me about work. You give me paper towels to clean off my clothes. You laugh with me about the size of the coffee I’ll pick up on the way. You promise me he will be fine in seconds, and in fact, I now see him playing in the corner with his friends. You tell him to come give me a hug and a kiss and he does. You tell me a funny thing he did yesterday and the thing he said that had every teacher rolling. You hand me the funniest octopus craft made out of a balloon and pipe cleaners. I leave happy.
When we first walked through your doors, he was six months old. He was a tiny baby with fat cheeks and funny hair. I was pumping twice a day at work and stretching the milk throughout the day to make it work, and you helped me achieve my goals of breastfeeding while working. That meant a lot to me. You wrote down all his daily activities on sheets so I could read them, and you never skimped on details. When I came in the door at the end of the shifts, I’d be greeted by more than one person who had a funny story about him and what he did, said, or how he ran across the length of the entire building to give you a hug.
One of you gave him his first haircut, spiked his hair up like a dinosaur each day when he asked you to, and read him his favorite book over and over. You taught him how to sit at a table with friends, clean up his spot, wash his hands religiously, and play well with others (most of the time). You played into his extreme school bus obsession that lasted way longer than it probably should have. You showed up to his school bus birthday party. You gave him bus rides on the day care bus just to see him beam.
He has made his rounds through each room now. He has been taught and molded and shaped by all of you now. And when I think about how incredibly lucky we are to have a village like you to help us teach our son how to be a great human being, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Had I been able to fathom the generosity that you would have bestowed upon us when I first waddled into your doors balancing an infant car seat on my elbow that many years ago, I wouldn’t have given the decision a second thought. I wouldn’t have lost a second of sleep.
You see, some moms have to work, some moms want to work, some moms want to stay at home, some moms get to stay home, however you want to look at it. I don’t know exactly where I fell in that spectrum, but I do know that you, daycare, gave me a precious gift. You loved him, you taught him, and you taught me. They say it takes a village to raise a child and you are my village.
Recently, right before he graduated from preschool, you gave me a folder full of post-it notes and sheet after sheet of notes that you have written about him from the time he was six months old until now. From when he first tried to stand, to when he first put his paci in on his own, to when he first spoke Spanish when asking for milk, his naughty times that were actually pretty funny, the times that he told you that clouds were angels. It is all here. And you gave it to me. And I could not think of a better gift in the world.
As I watch him walk to the bus in a few short days in his too-big-for-him backpack, I’ll remember you. The way you stood by me with every silent panic attack I had as he moved from room to room? I’ll picture your faces, each one of you standing by me this time, too.