Tomorrow, I'll be putting my baby in daycare for the first time. I'd planned a nice, easy transition, taking her in for a couple of hours on Thursday and Friday last week...until she came down with a bad cold and I had to keep her at home.
So tomorrow morning, I'll be dropping her off in a "this-is-your-new-reality" kind of way and leaving her there. Alone, with people who are essentially strangers to her. All day.
Clearly, the idea is causing me some anxiety. She's been my constant companion for the past year, so the thought of watching her little face crumple when she realizes that I'm actually going to LEAVE her fills me with dread. Intellectually, I know she'll be fine—but that doesn't stop the butterflies in my stomach.
I've had debates with other parents about the nature of parenting: whether it's purely a rational exercise or whether emotion must also be involved. Some argue that parenting decisions must be made based solely on reason—for example, whether or not to vaccinate or how to discipline your child for bad behaviour—and I surely agree that reason must be a guiding force.
But for me, emotion and reason go hand in hand in parenting. Do I believe in mother's intuition? I'm not sure. But I do believe in trusting my instincts, however irrational they may initially seem.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Why I'm Still Nursing, when my baby was two weeks old, she woke up at midnight. She seemed really off to me: warm and a little short of breath. My husband and I debated what to do—after all, it was the middle of the night, and we had a sleeping two-year-old in the house—but I pressed him to take to emerg. So we drove to the hospital and waited for a couple of hours until we could see a doctor. He admitted her right away.
Not knowing what was wrong with her, they immediately started treating her for the most common truly serious illnesses. That meant watching my two-week-old cry and cry as the nurse tried to find her tiny veins to insert an IV, holding her little body inside a frightening-looking machine to get a chest x-ray, feeling helpless and vulnerable as she was whisked out of my arms for a lumbar puncture.
Thankfully, everything turned out okay. We made the "reasonable" decision to have them treat her, no matter how hard it was for us on an emotional level. But it was that feeling, deep in my gut, that something just wasn't right that brought us to the hospital in the first place—and it was the right place for us to be.
I don't know if it's the same for other parents, but I need to listen to both my heart and my mind when I'm making parenting decisions. Because the fact of the matter is, my love for my children and my desire to do the best for them are inexorably intertwined. I'm not sure I could separate them, even if I tried.