When I can’t be there…

903894_10151566658399467_305534970_oYesterday my Monday blues lingered until I hopped in my car to drive to the daycare to pick up Potamus. I was so excited to see his chubby cheeks and get to snuggle him up into his carseat and hear him babble about his day. There are many days where I really want to be at work, and then there are days, like yesterday, when I just want to scoop up my little one and hold his tiny hand and go for a walk.

I walked quickly back to his classroom, it already dark outside (thanks a lot Daylight Savings) and saw him run toward me in his too-short-pants indicating that he had peed through his clothes at naptime again. And his face was red. Had he been crying?

“He sat in front of your picture and cried all day today. I had to move him, and then he’d come back and sit in front of your picture, saying ‘mama,’ and crying.” his teacher said.


She said it in a “isn’t that sweet?” sort of tone, but all I heard was: my kid said mama and reached out to a picture for comfort and comfort didn’t come and so he cried.

I felt like shit.

Whose bright idea is it to have the kid’s All About Me’s plastered at eye height in the reading nook of the daycare? Seriously, there at the age that ‘out of sight out of mind’ is best, especially for my sweetly sensitive peanut. I felt overwhelmed with grief, that I had sent him to school hopped up on tylenol for a runny nose and he was sad and spent the day crying and wanting me, and I didn’t come.

But I did come, eventually, and all was right with the world. And when I talked to his regular teacher, she said that he hadn’t cried all day, but he had been sad at some points, and seeing my picture made him more sad instead of being comforted. Today they’re taking the picture down so as not to bother him more.

I kept thinking about my own childhood, though, from that experience. How I’d look at the very few photos of my birthmom and wonder what she was like…and did I actually miss her? I remember looking at pictures of my friends and family while i lived in India, and crying, from homesickness when I saw their smiling faces. There’s something both comforting and heartbreaking about holding a picture when all you want is a hug.

And it’s amazing how quickly kids move on. I’m still thinking about it twenty four hours later…after talking about it to my friend, and my mom, and Boof, and my therapist. Potamus had moved on as soon as he saw me. All lingering thoughts were gone to the wayside and all was right with the world. He didn’t hold a grudge when I left again at night for therapy. In fact he blew kisses and snuggled up with dad on the couch. But the feeling of not being able to be there for him, when he needed me, is lingering. I know it’s a fine balance, of independence and letting children experience the hardships and heartaches of the world, and being able to provide a safe and comforting bosom for them to come back to.

The feeling is lingering. How do I move forward?


  1. Ugh, I can imagine how triggering that was. Poor guy! But Potamus is not you; his birth mom and parenting mom is the same person. He might miss you but he certainly knows you are not gone forever. He knows his mom will come back for him. He’s just impatient! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was in daycare a lot too–my parents worked a lot–and there were alway s days that were super rough, that I missed my mom and wanted her to pick me up. It sucks, but it’s normal and it happens.

  2. Funny how two daycare workers had a totally different perception. Or maybe the one thought it would make you happy to hear that your kid cried for you all day? (Which is messed up btw). I’m sure your little guy is over it, but that is HEARTBREAKING! Maybe you both were just having an off day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Oh dear. . . those moments are really hard to swallow. I always say that leaving a child in someone else’s care is one of the most unnatural things we have to do as women. I’m sorry you had a hard day, but it does sound like a wonderful lesson in mindfulness, how in the moment kids are, how quickly they can move on. . . is he getting two year old molars? My daughter is cutting hers and she has been runny nosed and more sensitive than usual. . . anyhoo, I think it is good that the caregiver at his daycare responded so compassionately, and they will take your picture down so as not to taunt his burgeoning sense of object relations! Love and hugs to you, sissy poo.

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