It seems insane to me to think that this time last year, I had just started my maternity leave. I was ginormous, uncomfortable, excited and impatient. I left work shortly before Q's due date so I could get a few things done around the house in the event he decided to show up early. Unbeknownst to me, he was on the extended stay plan. Once I packed the freezer full of pre-made meals and finished cleaning everything that stood still, I spent the next two weeks alternating my time between sitting on my butt and
walking trudging waddling around my neighbourhood, hoping to shake him loose. We all know how that ended.
In preparation for my return to work, we've started transitioning Q into daycare. We were very lucky to find a center near us that came highly recommended by M's cousin, who sent both her boys there. Child care is at a premium in Toronto, so much so that more than a few women I work with have been forced to take a couple of extra months of unpaid leave to bridge the gap between the end of their paid leave and the date they could get their kids into daycare. On the first day, to familiarize him with the environment, we spent an hour there together as if it was a sort of play group. The next day I left him alone for an hour. The next day he stayed until just after lunch. By the end of the week he spent the better part of a whole day there.
So far he seems to be doing really well. Every day his caregivers tell me how good he's been, how great he ate and napped (!?!), and how happy he is. Drop-offs are a little rough, but what's surprised me the most has been my own reaction to this whole thing. We started transitioning him a little bit before my leave ended both so that he'd have plenty of time to adjust, and also so that I could get a bunch of things done (spring cleaning, closet overhaul, etc) before going back to work. I thought I'd feel a huge sense of freedom, but instead I've felt more than a little lost. The first day I left him for an hour, I went grocery shopping without him for the first time in a year. When he was smaller he would just sleep in his stroller, but ever since he was old enough to sit strapped into the cart, our weekly grocery trip has been a fun excursion. I'd talk to him and tell him about everything that we were buying. He'd chew on my grocery list or keys or anything else besides the three toys I'd brought for him. He'd grin at strangers and charm the pants off of anyone who took the time to greet him. Without him riding along, I felt lonely. There was a tiny ache in my chest. I missed my shopping buddy. And while I've gotten a few things done around the house this past week, I haven't been nearly as productive as I thought I'd be. I've spent more than a little bit of time thumbing through my phone, looking at his pictures and giggling at his videos. Or I've just stared off into space, enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet while simultaneously counting down the minutes until I go pick him up.
I guess maybe this transition period is just as necessary for me as it is for him.