From Weekly Childcare to None: One Mama’s Experience During the Pandemic

I started crying the moment the door closed. I couldn’t hold it together. I had just dropped off the daycare deposit check and secured Everett’s spot. My breath was jagged and broken as I quickly started walking because I didn’t want anyone to see my cry. Not that it would be the first time I cried on the streets of New York City. 

I was filling up with guilt and I didn’t know what would happen when it started overflowing. I was looking forward to going back to work. I love teaching Pilates, I love my clients, I love celebrating their wins and working through the hard stuff. I missed them.

I missed my commute and listening to podcasts and writing stories and adding ideas in the notes app on my phone. All while sitting next to someone I knew nothing about living some completely different life as full and varied as mine.

I shouldn’t want to go back to work. I shouldn’t want anything outside of my new family. I shouldn’t feel comfortable leaving my baby with strangers while I galavant around the city teaching Pilates, having lunch with a friend, and stopping by my parents’ apartment for a midday nap.

Financially, my work definitely contributes to the household, but it’s not necessary for me to work. It felt purely selfish and neglectful to want to hold onto some of my life. My full and varied life. 

I chose to have a baby and with that comes a life full of baby. No variation. All baby. All the time. And it was becoming more and more clear that that wasn’t going to work for me. 

This was before Covid. 

Everett was in daycare for exactly six weeks before lockdown. Then my life was all baby. All the time. Exactly what I didn’t want. And I have to say there were a lot of things about that fact that were incredible. I didn’t miss a single milestone. And neither did my husband. We had this weird, unique, super intense opportunity to really become a family. 

And with the additional “free time” of covid, I was able to research and google all sorts of things related to Everett and his development. I became fixated on the fact that whenever this whole lockdown/quarantine situation resolved that Everett would have intense separation anxiety. I needed to do everything I could to develop a healthy attachment with him to avoid separation anxiety. 

So, I did the research and discovered there are three main styles of attachment that I was focusing on: ecure, anxious, and avoidant.

Secure attachment, the dream, happens when a child knows their caregiver will always be there when they need help. Whether it’s negative emotions, a physical problem, or anything else. They are given space and freedom to explore (no helicopter parent cramping their style), but know that if they need a hug or a pep talk, someone will always be there.

Anxious attachment occurs when a child’s needs are met sometimes and not others. The child cannot rely on their parents to be there for them so they anxiously stay close to them. They won’t explore freely because if they wander too far, their parents may not be there when they come back. 

Avoidant attachment children stop involving their parents at all. Not only because their parents aren’t meeting the child’s needs, but because the child is expected to meet the parent’s needs. A real role reversal. 

I was concerned Everett would end up with an anxious attachment from never having distance from us because of the circumstances with Covid and we’d end up with him living in our basement (if we ever moved to a house) forever. 

So I focused on empowering Everett. I gave him freedom to explore the stairs, the yard, the carpet. I always kept him safe, but never hovered. He got two bloody noses and a black eye along the way, but he also learned how to keep his balance and to be careful when climbing. 

Through this process Everett and I built our trust in each other.  And as he proved himself more and more trustworthy, I gave him more freedom. I do joke that sometimes it may border negligence, but it’s a joke! Safety first is our family’s motto.

I want him to feel safe in the world. I want him to develop strong instincts and to trust himself. He is trustworthy. And I can teach him that by demonstrating how trustworthy he is. And trusting him. Age appropriately of course.

Over the year plus of working from home, being together all of the time we all got to know each other well. Where we can and can’t trust each other. That I will pour water on his head in the bath and that doesn’t happen if we shower. 

That he will happily chill in his crib if I need a little extra time to get work done and I will go in if he’s really, actually, crying. Not the fake one. 

And that the friends I recruit to care for him when we need help are always way more fun than I am. 

And Everett starts nearing age 2, it is abundantly clear he’s a social butterfly like his mama. He loves other kids, wants to participate in most things, and is really for a group situation. 

I could also definitely use some physical, energetic, emotional space. 

It’s time to go back to daycare. Which is supposed to be complicated, right? I’m supposed to feel gutted? Where did my baby go? And all that jazz.

But I don’t.

I’m excited for him. I’m excited for me. Remember, I didn’t want to mom 100% of the time. 

It’s good for him and his development, it’s good for me and my development, it’s great for us. As a team. We are both new at this. You can read more about both being new to everything here

After dropping him off for his first full day my husband asked if I was worried he would like the teachers at daycare more than me. A standard type of question for any mom dropping her kid off for the first time.

“I don’t worry that you’ll go to work and find a new wife. I trust you. The same way I’m not worried Everett is going to find a new mom. We’re good.”

And I realized I spent so much freaking time worrying about his development, adjustment, attachment, everything, and didn’t consider mine.

It turns out that our year living in a little family bubble provided time and experience to build our trust in ourselves and each other. We are securely attached. And neither of us can wait for dropoff. 

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