May 04, 2006

Leaving Home

Puppy started daycare this week.

That's a sentence I never thought I would write--never thought I would allow myself to write. In the days when T and I had hours to sit around and talk dreamily about being parents, we breezily agreed that we wanted a parent to be home with our children while they were small. It didn't matter which one of us it was at home (how progressive!), but parenting would be our top priority (how dedicated!). During the home study process for the adoption, as we filled page after page with essay questions on our parenting philosophy, we waxed on about how flexible we were with our careers and how terribly committed to having one of us at home (although we had enough sense to throw in "if we can make it work financially").

By staggering T's paternity leave and my own maternity leave, we were able to be at home full-time for Puppy's first six months. Then we were faced with reality. By personality , T is a much better fit to be a primary caregiver. But even as a lowly public servant, T makes far more money than I do; living on my income alone was not an option. And, thanks to this crazy-expensive part of the U.S. we call home, neither was living on T's salary alone. So with much philosophical hand-wringing (on my part, at least), we picked out a warm, loving daycare facility close to our home.

The first morning I steeled myself for the guilt of leaving my precious baby for an entire day. But from the second we walked in the door, he never looked back. I kissed his chubby cheek as he lunged for something bright and shiny. When I arrived to pick him up in the afternoon, he looked up with a smile ("Oh, great, you've come to join us!"), then turned straight back to gnawing on his toy. It was that way every day this week. He loves it. He's in a room full of toys. There are other kids his age to squeal at. Multiple caregivers attend to his every need. If I didn't know better, I'd think my kid has more fun at daycare than he does at home with me.

It's a bit of a blow to the ego, you know?

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