Surviving My Daughter’s First Day of Daycare

I sat in the passenger seat next to my husband, Nick, and bawled. We were still sitting in the parking lot. He grabbed my hand and told me this was normal. I turned to look at him and he too had tears in his eyes. We had been preparing for how dropping our daughter off at her first day of daycare would feel. I had my mantra set, “There’s no shame in being sad today.” It wasn’t helping. We sat there for a few minutes and then Nick turned to me and said, “coffee and bagels?” I nodded.

The Real and Raw Emotions of my Daughters First Day of Daycare

Transitions are hard, full stop. I’m learning that transitions that involve giving up control over your child are extremely hard. First day of daycare? Hard.

Today, at nearly 6 months old, we dropped our daughter off for her first day of daycare at her learning center. I’m drowning in a pool of emotion. At the root of it all, I feel scared. Over the last 6 months I’ve grown to learn everything about her. I know what each of her cues, cries and gestures means and how to react to them. The key here is, I’ve learned them. On the day she was born, just like her teachers, I had a lot to learn. I did it and they will too.
Framing it like this helps. Will they approach things exactly as I would, probably not. Perhaps, there will be things they can teach me? Wouldn’t it be incredible if they could help soother her to sleep without a bottle? Or teach her new songs and stories?
Sure, I could get hung-up on the fact that I could miss the first time she crawls, speaks or walks, but that’s not helpful. She will undoubtedly have a first crawl, word and step with me, too. That’s the one we will celebrate. A tear just dripped down my face as I wrote this, because even though I know it’s true, there’s still a piece of this that hurts. This is real life.

The crazy thing is, a part of me also feels relief. It’s possible to feel many different emotions at once.

I just walked the dog for the first time in six months without her being home. There wasn’t the normal rush to get back and I was able to enjoy the sun on my face and the spring flowers in bloom. I hadn’t realized how much still raced through my mind about her, even when not physically with her. Today, there aren’t any bottles to make, naps to prepare for or feedings to take care of. I’m slowly realizing that the tasks that sometimes felt repetitive and mundane will feel exciting and extra special again. There’s no shame in this. It’s important that we normalize the good aspects of hard things, too. 
Here’s something I know for sure, today will be hard, but each drop off will likely get easier. We will be learning and growing together.

I can find peace in the fact that nothing is permanent.

Each day our family will absorb new information and make choices and decisions rooted in what feels best for us. At this point in time, we know our daughter is safe. This is a huge transition. Transitions are hard. it’s not every day that you drop your nearly 6 months old off for her first day of daycare at her learning center.
Thank you for reading this, I can’t express how much putting my puddle of emotions into words has helped me. Maybe, just maybe, it’s what you needed, too.
If you are struggling with transitions like these (or just parenting in general), please know you’re not alone! Here are some local support groups and also check out our Pregnancy and Postpartum Guide