We’ve weathered another big change – week one of daycare is in the books and I am so, so glad to have that initial transition behind us.  Juliette was an absolute rock star and has wowed us with her adaptability.  Shane and I, on the other hand, haven’t exactly been a glowing example of cool, calm, and collected…

As I was working my way through Juliette’s daycare supply list last Sunday, labeling her bottles and packing her bag, Shane sighed a deep sigh of resignation and forlornly gazed at Jules as she happily chomped on her stuffed bunny.  You’d think we were about to send our little girl off to college on the east coast from the look on his face.  “I can’t believe we’re just going to hand her off to a bunch of strangers.  She’s going to freak out.”  Ever the shining optimist, that husband of mine.  But he wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t already on my mind.  I mean, really, who were these daycare people?  We’d met them once and we were going to trust them with our daughter all day?  Our daughter, who cries when anyone unfamiliar even stands too close to her?  I faltered for a moment, wondering if I should just call in sick the next day and keep her at home with me.  But that would just be delaying the inevitable.  Ready or not, we had promised ourselves we would give this a go.

We were up extra-early on Monday morning to get ourselves out the door on time, and as I proudly zipped Juliette into her jacket at 7:15 on the dot, I looked up to find a teary-eyed Shane at our side.  Whoa.  I don’t know that I’ve seen him cry since the day we brought Juliette home from the hospital (I, on the other hand, feel like a faucet without an off knob these days).  He took a deep breath and pursed his lips, trying to keep it together but finally letting the tears flow as he murmured about how hard this was, how worried he was about her, how he wasn’t ready to let her go.  I hugged him and did my best to reassure him while spilling a few tears of my own, and then we quickly composed ourselves and headed out the door, stuffing our pockets with Kleenex on the way.  This could get ugly.

We walked into her classroom that morning as another couple was saying goodbye to their infant son.  The mom, who happened to be another architect that I’ve crossed paths with before, sensed our first-day apprehension and kindly assured us, “She’s in good hands here!  This place is the best!”  I looked at her son, who seemed relatively happy in the arms of his teacher.  No head wounds or contagious-looking rashes to speak of.  This might work out, after all.  We sat with Juliette on the floor for a few minutes, surrounding her with toys and making overly enthusiastic statements like “Look how cool this place is!” as our eyes watered and chins quivered.  Eventually, it was time to say our much-dreaded good-byes – I quickly kissed her on the head, ran my fingers through her soft brown hair, told her I loved her.  We barely made it out the door before dissolving into a couple of weeping wrecks.  It’s hard to even put into words how tightly that baby girl holds our vulnerable hearts in her sweet little hands.  And walking away that day, it felt like I was leaving a piece of myself in that classroom.  It was emotional amputation.  And the wound, though invisible, hurt like hell.  I spent the whole morning at work wondering about her, missing her, praying that she’d somehow understand that we hadn’t abandoned her.

I walked/ran the two blocks to daycare at lunchtime, my chest tight with anxiety and excitement as I peered into her classroom.  And wouldn’t you know it, she was fine.  Content, even, as she sat in the lap of one of the teachers.  She smiled when she saw me and it felt unbelievably good to scoop her up and feel her nuzzle into me.  I got the full report and she’d had an ok morning – some tears, but she’d taken a nap and spent plenty of time just sitting back and observing her new environment, eyeing the other babies with lots of curiosity.  She’d taken her bottles on schedule and seemed to be more comfortable with each passing hour.  Ahhhhh, sweet relief!  I played with Juliette for about 15 minutes and then headed back to the office, feeling my anxiety slowly melt away.  Shane picked her up that evening and said she seemed a bit dazed by all the activity and changes, but she was in great spirits when we got home and slept well that night.  We had survived day one!

Tuesday’s drop-off was much less emotional and by Wednesday we were really getting into the swing of things.  I took her out for lunch on Wednesday and we met up with Shane at our favorite Thai restaurant.  It was fun, having a mid-week family date.  Though it seems that Juliette is warming up to her teachers and classmates, it’s pretty clear that papa and I are her all-time favorite companions.

20140402 lunch date sm

And then it was Thursday, which is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week, chock-full of snuggles and smiles and a trip to the swings.  This letting-go stuff is painful and scary and generally just…sad, but the hanging-on times?  They’re better than ever…

20140407 cuddles sm

20140407 hugs sm


  1. La Verne Chen says:

    oh, that was my favorite sleep sack!! great job to the whole family on week 1!

  2. noncers says:

    Way to go, Schnells! Week one in the bag! That must have been so hard. That picture of Jules sleeping in the sleep sack is so darling. Love that sweet girl.