starting daycare blues - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 06-16-2003, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Dear friends,

I work and study at home, I am a single mother of a 21-month-old (and 18- and 22-year-old girls who are not around very much). After looking for quite a while, I found a daycare I like and I signed my little guy up. Today was the second day that I left him. It was awful.

When I put him in the car after a two-hour stay this morning, he was wanting more nursing, but I told him again, no more right now, we have juice or water or food if you want, and that seemed ok with him, he relaxed. He was tired, and then he seemed to have this weakened, resigned, and sad way about him. He had been crying off and on while there, but was not crying when I got there. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and I talked to him a bit. He then developed for a moment the most deeply sad, scared, and forlorn look that I have ever seen on him, by far.

I have been alone with him here at home lot. I am in a custody battle over him that is now very long and bitter and frightening to me. I have felt like I needed time to do my study and my work, and that my son needs a place to play, and also a chance to bond with another adult or two; a replacement for the extended family we don’t have here.

Now I feel that I have been misled. Not in a big way overall. But I think we are told over and over again to ignore our mothering instincts. Daycare people and child-development specialists may be ignoring important things. When I got home today and he fell asleep I did a search on the net. I found an article on the childcare debate that referenced a study in Israel, which apparently indicated that daycare children consistently had more problems relating intimately when grown up then those raised at home.

I could see it in my son today; the breech of trust. I could feel the shutting down from the transgression and the loss in his affect, and in my soul; very painful. Yet, I am told “he’ll get over it” and “its harder on mom then on the child” and ‘be confident and unwavering in your attitude and that will help him.”

Really? Now I wonder. This is what I mean by misled.

Ok, we get over it, but we are also darn good at ignoring the inner, long-term effects, of everything, not just childcare. I want my son to be able to trust deeply and live a full and rich life, including deeply-trusting intimate relationships. Come to think of it, I am not able to model this one for him.

I co-sleep with him and I nurse him. I go to API groups, and it comes naturally to me to practice the AP way. Yet I need support for his care. I need to trust my feelings on this, too. I don’t want to ignore it.

Thanks for listening and for your caring responses.

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#2 of 5 Old 06-18-2003, 01:02 PM
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I am so sorry you and your son had this experience. I wouldn't write off all daycare situations based on this experience though. My son truly enjoys his daycare. He wouldn't be there if he didn't. But each daycare is different and each child is different. There may not be a daycare for your child but I think it is worth looking further. There are lots of options from large day cares to small home day cares to at home care with a nanny. And maybe ease him in to it a bit more. Go for short periods and hang out with him until he gets to know the care giver and the other kids, don't even leave him there alone unless he feels comfortable with it.

There have been studies showing positive effects of daycare, too, so I wouldn't put to much weight on one study.
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#3 of 5 Old 06-18-2003, 01:41 PM
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Chanda, I read your post yesterday and couldn't think of anything eloquent to say...still can't, in fact. In fact, I think you've touched on a fear that a lot of working moms must have. What if I've done my daughter irreparable harm by going back to work? What if she will have intimacy/trust issues later on because I wasn't with her every moment of her infancy? What if I've left a wound on her psyche by saying goodbye and disappearing for 8 hours four days a week? What if...what if?

The thing is, there's no way now for me to know...I can't re-do the past 18 months and see if she'd be a different kid if I'd quit my job and stayed at home with her. All I can do is to try to ensure that the hours that I'm away from her are as positive and nurturing as possible, and to give her as much attention and affection as she can take when we're reunited at the end of the day. And she seems to be an exceptionally happy kid so we must be doing something right.

I wouldn't put too much stock in one study about daycare...I'm sure there's another study that claims the opposite. In the end, you have to go with what feels right for you. I don't feel great about not being with my kid every day; but I don't feel she's being harmed, either. If you try daycare a few more times and your son still seems unhappy about it, try a different place or another alternative or wait a few months. But don't write off the experience immediately because of two rough mornings.

I don't think I've addressed your concerns much at all...but I do sympathize and I wish you and your son the best. By the way, I used to live in Chapel we're in Wake Forest!
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#4 of 5 Old 06-18-2003, 11:55 PM
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I wish I could say you are causing irreparable harm in leaving your child in day care. Then the converse would be true... unfortunately, I don't believe any parenting decision is that clear cut They are tough choices, and even more so in times of chaos and yucky life situations like divorce.

I know that the qualities I most wish my son to possess are the ones I lack. Children are wonderful mirrors which can give us so much insight into ourselves. Just because you can't model a certain behavior now, doesn't mean your son can't learn that from you. I think the strongest impressions my parents made upon me are not their strengths, but their weaknesses, and how they continually grew past them. It gave me a great model for self acceptance, self love, and understanding.

And ALWAYS Follow your instincts. Your heart will always guide you down the best path.
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#5 of 5 Old 06-19-2003, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all for being there

My sense is that I need to go very slow, but that ultimately he will do well to be there part time.

I went once again and did not leave him, then I have been leaving him, crying intitially, but I have been coming back very soon, after half an hour.

I talked to a very helpful child psychologist about it and she suggested that it is good to let him get used to it slowly, staying whith him some, but then with full matter-of-fact confidence, let him find out that he can get over the intitial tug to stay with me. She suggested leaving him even if he is crying about it, but not more than an hour or so inthe beginning, and to not leave him more than three or so mornings per week. She said that until about age three, in general, it is hard on them to be away for a full time schedule every week.

I had to go get that book about the study, and after a few glances, it looks like it is about children who were placed in communal care as newborns - just after getting home from the hospital! And I am not sure yet but it sounds as if they had perhaps very little or no contact with their mothers after that - a very radical scenario. So that helps dispell the fear.

My little guy will fair well, I know it.

thanks again, all

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