Thursday morning, Little Legs was up all night, tossing and turning. He has already cried eight times, hit the dog and declared that he hates daycare, his brother and drinking milk. However, he is willing to eat a popsicle and drink juice for “eat-time.”
God help you if you make the mistake of referring to this early morning meal as breakfast. He hates breakfast. Add all the possible emphasis on the word hate.
“It’s going to be a long day, good luck,” Daddy Longlegs whispers to me and slips away to his little office nook.
I need more than luck. We still need to track down pants that Little Legs won’t throw across the room, brush everyone’s teeth, including Baby Brother’s pearly set of four, and get out the door in the next fifteen minutes.
Luckily, I have a job where I can flex my start and end time. Otherwise, the next thirty minutes would be stressful. Very stressful.
Somehow, we make it to The Zone, which Little Legs hates, clearly.
I get both boys unloaded and shuffled into the building. Baby Brother screams and reaches for me as I hand him off to the worker of Toddler Room 1. Big, fat tears roll down his cheeks.
He cries, “Mama, Mama, Mama,” effectively breaking my heart into two, bloody raw pieces, right then and there.
Little Legs also screams and tries to escape down the hallway when I try to hand him off to Toddler Room 4. I grab him in a ninja-fast maneuver and redirect him into the room with a squeeze and a hug. The worker pulls him in and I slink out, only to peek into the window to see him sobbing on the shoulder of a strange woman.
Finally, I leave, stricken with a crippling sense of shame and guilt at leaving my boys in the hands of strangers to go to a job where I am late and distracted and wondering if the struggle is worth it. Do the ends justify the means?
I remind myself of the boost in Little Legs’ vocabulary since being around other kids and how Baby Brother can self-play or cozy up for a game of roll-ball without missing a beat. They both have a new confidence in social settings and after experiencing every early childhood illness, I assume their immune systems are close to iron-clad by now.
Surely, the benefits are there. There is a silver lining. And I’m not a terrible mother.
I just need a little reminding to remember.