I knew this day was coming, as soon as I visited the school and met the childcare providers. Nia was going to daycare. I made the decision a long time ago, anticipating shorter, less stressful commutes (bye,bye Hwy. 280) and more time spent at home with my family (Nia and my dog, Lady). I visited a few learning centers, daycares and schools to gather information and see where my angel would spread her wings. I talked to the childcare providers and teachers, hoping to get reassurance that this was the right thing to do at the right time. I prayed, researched, asked advice, took notes, read websites, talked to other moms and dads – everything I could think of to make “day one” special, rewarding, and suitable for us.
I found the one.It was close to our new home, within my price range, had a small group of kids, and a great spirit. I remember thinking, as I approached the director’s office, “Where do I sign?” As I began to toss around the day Nia would begin, I felt the excitement; she would begin next month, I thought with an aspiring spirit. But as the weeks and days drew near, I began to realize that this was it: my tiny baby that could barely raise her head would soon be walking into a little classroom, interacting with playmates and nodding her head to her teacher. What?!? Who did I need to call to slow down time and make my toddler an infant again? My stomach became queasy every time I contemplated “the day”.
Despite my “queasiness”, I pressed forward toward registration. I bought the daycare staples, ziplocked and labeled EVERYTHING, packed every snack available in my kitchen, packed enough extra clothes for four small children, and topped it all of with two pacies and a fresh tube of Butt paste. The night before, I didn’t sleep a wink. I ate, sorted bills, and checked the bag (was it all there?).
Footsteps rang in the hall as Nia sprang from bed with laughter (always with laughter). As I dressed her and prepared breakfast, I began seeing things in slow motion in hopes of cherishing every, single second of that morning. We ate, played, danced to Mickey Mouse Club House and even walked the dog. I was determined to stretch every second before work. We boarded our “gray vessel” (as much gas as my SUV requires, this name rings true), like every other day; however, it was not like any other day. Driving down the road, I began to wonder what Nia was thinking as she peered out the window: “Are we going to going to Grandma’s house? Oh, that’s pretty? What’s that?” As thoughts of her thoughts bombarded my head, I realized we had arrived. I remember saying, “We’re here noon!” (Noon is the nickname I gave Nia…among many). But when I turned around, my angel had drifted off to sleep. As I picked her up and carried her inside, I knew it was better this way. God knew that her departing eyes and curious look upon my leaving would have torn me apart. I met her teacher, and she laid Nia down to sleep. As she took her away, I whispered “I love you” in her ear. I hurried out of the door, fighting back tears; the tears won eventually. Grandma and I cried over the phone. We were both happy, yet saddened that this time had come too soon.
As I look back on that day, I realize how precious our time as mothers are and the remarkable gift motherhood is.
This is my lamentation for Nia’s first days.