Although as a working mama, I spend 40 or more hours each week away from 17 month-old C, she has had zero exposure yet to non-family childcare. Her grandmother cares for her while I am working – either at my husband’s office (a family business) or at her house, near ours. When we need babysitting so we can go on a date, or take the older kids to a non-baby-friendly activity, we are able to ask my sister to cover for us. C is very happy to stay with her grandmother or her Aunt Betsy. She happily waves goodbye to me when I leave her with either one of them. However, even though she is absolutely fine with these caregivers, my spidey-sense tells me she would be wildly unhappy if left with anyone else for longer than 15 minutes. But today at church, I decided to give it a test run; I decided to leave her in the nursery.
Her older brother and sister tried to talk me out of it. “This is a really bad idea, Mom,” said 11 year old E. “Yeah, added 13-year old J, ” I give her five minutes before she freaks out.” I knew they were probably right, but I really wanted to give it a try. After all, C’s same-age cousin, NC recently started going to a sweet little nursery school two half days each week, and she absolutely loves it.
So I ushered J and E off to their Sunday School classes, and I took C to the nursery. Before I could even introduce her to the nursery staff, she took off to begin playing with some toys. She didn’t even glance back at me. So far, so good, I thought. I signed her in, left my cell # in case she became upset, and I left to sit in the church sanctuary for the service.
Well, her siblings were right. Fifteen minutes later, my phone buzzed, and I scurried back to the nursery to retrieve her. When I walked in and she saw me, she looked absolutely heartbroken. She was sobbing in giant heaves, and she was all splotchy from screaming. I believe the nurseryy staff that they called me just as soon as she began crying, but she had worked herself into a conniption fit very, very quickly. I gathered her up in my arms, and she began babbling about the horror of her experience. I apologized to her and held her close, and then I felt terribly guilty for trying to push her to do something that I knew she really wasn’t ready to do…and for no good reason other than curiosity. Bad mama.
We spent the rest of the hour together in the wonderful glass room with sound from the sanctuary that the church built for parents and their little children to use during the service. That’s where we usually go each week, and she really likes playing in there with the other babies and young toddlers. I suspect we will be spending many more Sundays there before she’s ready to try the nursery again.
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