It is Evan’s first day of preschool. I will tell you all about it once I’ve accepted that fact that this is happening. And I promise you there will be pictures. But as much as we are excited about moving forward, I couldn’t approach this milestone without looking back.
Saying goodbye to Evan’s sitter on Friday broke my heart a little. She has cared for him since he was 12 weeks old. She’s comforted him when I couldn’t be there. She’s fed him more breakfasts and lunch than I have. She’s put him down for more naps than I have. For the last two years, he has spent more weekday waking hours with her than with me. She has had a very large role in raising my child from the baby he was to the toddler he is.
Two years ago, almost to the day, I was returning to work from maternity leave. I was an anxious, tearful wreck. I was sure I couldn’t leave my baby with a near stranger. I was sure she wouldn’t care for him the way I would. How could she, with 4 other kids to watch? I was terrified about leaving Evan with anyone else. I gave her a written notes on how to feed him, change him, and soothe him.
But after a few days, I realized we could do this working/daycare thing. And after a few months, I realized Evan was still thriving. I was new to this caring-for-a-child thing, but she had 20+ years of experience to balance that out.
Now, we had our ups and downs. I sat in her house sobbing for an hour one day when she forced me to accept the reality that he was hungry and I didn’t have enough milk and I was going to need to consider the formula I spent 6 hard months avoiding. I spent many annoyed days home with a perfectly healthy kid because she had deemed him “sick” unnecessarily. After doing it for a year, she gave me a hard time about cloth diapering to the point that I finally just sent in disposables.
But she also got me through the challenges of introducing solids and dropping naps. She reassured me that I was doing a good job, even when I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. My son was more loved because he had our love and her love.
This isn’t goodbye forever. No one is moving. We can still visit and she’s offered to watch him on school holidays. But I know that if I am feeling this strongly about the end of this two year relationship, that it will be even harder on her and on Evan. Change is a part of life and this is Evan’s first big experience with that. I know he is going to love school. I know he is ready for this new phase. But I wish I could explain to him why he isn’t going to be seeing his sitter every day .
I promised her I wouldn’t share the last picture I took of her and Evan on Friday online. She thought she looked like a mess. She had just spent ten hours caring for other people’s children for the fifth day in the row. Of course she looked like a mess. It’s a hard job raising other people’s children. Her work day is longer than mine. Her tiny clients are more demanding than mine. She doesn’t get to go our for lunch or take a personal day. I am going to respect her wishes and not share that photo here, but I know Evan will love her in it just the way she is.