Worst. Day. Ever.

Seriously. Today was quite possible the worst day ever. Am I being dramatic? Yes! Is that weird? Yes! Does rationalizing it make it any easier? No!

Lindsey seemed stressed last night and kept talking about all the preparation she needed to do to get ready for a trial half-day at daycare today. She went through a list of supplies, wrote down Ashleigh’s typical “schedule”, assembled bottles, and measured milk out for two meals. She kept asking me questions and requesting opinions; I answered half-heartedly as it seemed that she was already uber-prepared. She did research on local daycare centers and visited this one three times. We chose it and decided to send Ashleigh there, so let’s do it and move on – what’s all the anxiety about?

To be completely honest, I knew it was going to be hard to leave our sweet angel at daycare. The trial day is a great way to get her acclimated to her new classroom, but more importantly, for us to get acclimated to her being there! At the same time, I was pretty excited to have a half day all to myself. I thought of all the house projects I was going to get done, the time I was going to have to exercise, and the food I would be able to cook.

When we dropped Ashleigh off this morning at 7:30, I was fully prepared to be there for Lindsey; whether she needed a hug or even a shoulder to cry on when we walked out and left our little bundle of joy to fend for herself. The mom always gets emotional at the start of daycare, right?

I never imagined that it would be tough on me. But it was.

I have never been so bummed.

Thankfully today is a shortened day and we get the opportunity to ease into this.  I keep thinking I hear crying from her room; but it’s just in my head. Most parents would enjoy a half-day of “vacation”, but right now I can’t do much of anything. I keep looking at her empty swing or bouncey seat and wishing her little face was there smiling back at me. Heck, I would even take her little face being there and crying at me!

We knew this day would be a difficult one, but it is even harder than I expected. Lindsey and I half-joked for months that she should quit her job and stay home. Don’t get me wrong, we have full trust in those that will be watching her at daycare; but there is just something about having one of us at home with her that takes away the worry. We know that they will take care of Ashleigh’s basic needs and will treat her well. But they aren’t her parents. She will be in a room with seven other kids attended by two adults. She won’t get the special one-on-one time that she has received for the last three months.

And her mom and I won’t get the time with her that we have grown accustomed to either.

Sure, millions of parents have gone through this, and I know that we aren’t special. But that doesn’t make it any easier.

I joked that when we dropped her off, the teacher said tears are normal for a 3-month old baby, it’s just not normal for them to be coming from the dad. Although I held it together when I left, inside I was emotionally distraught.

And I still am.

Is this weird for a dad to feel like this? Maybe. But the last six weeks have been truly special for me. Getting to spend every moment with my daughter has been an invaluable gift and allowed me to connect with her like many fathers probably don’t get to do. It has also influenced me to have genuine respect and appreciation for stay-at-home parents.

She is my baby girl and I am going to miss being around her during the day. That is all the more reason to make sure I leave work on time each day so that I can spend time with her.

And the weekend is never more than five days away!

Apparently only one of us had a hard time dealing with daycare!


      1. Michelle

        I read your story and it’s so hard to leave a child with a new caregiver. My kids were born 21/19 years ago and parental leave was 6 months. Now in Canada it is a standard 12 months and many professions will give up to 18 months off. 3 months seems like such a short time for parental leave

        1. SCMD

          Michelle, thank you for your note! 3 months does seem so short; unfortunately, at a lot of companies, dads don’t get any time off at all – I feel blessed that I got what I did, but we really need to work here in the US to support leave for both parents!

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