I remember when I was pregnant looking for that special and safe place where you would be staying when I came back to work after my Maternity leave was over. I did so much research and interviewed so many candidates. And then we found Maria. She was super nice, professional, organized (such cleanliness in a house full of kids!) and she immediately captured our hearts with her sweet personality. Before going to daycare I was so worried about who that person taking care of you would be, a total stranger no less. I was handing you off as a defenseless 2 month old, the most important person in my life, to someone I hardly knew. I called her that first week at different times during the day to make sure you were ok and I also had to understand that God willing, you were with the right person. And you were.
For 4 years, Maria took care of you. I dropped you off at her house at 7 am and picked you up around 5:30pm. At daycare you were fed, diaper changed and received so much love. There were others kids older than you and some that were your age.
During your first year, you did tummy time, you learned how to sit, crawl and eventually walk. I remember those first steps and how much I cried seeing you tumble and get up again. And even though Maria saw many milestones before me, she always let me “find out” at home for myself as if it was the first time.
Since she owns a home daycare you never transitioned from room to room as you grew, but she developed you based on your age and your strengths. By the time you were 6 months old, I decided to cook homemade baby food for you each night (and after working full time during the day) because it was very important for me to know exactly what you were eating and I wanted to make sure it was healthy too. So needless to say, you hardly ever had store bought baby food because I made it all for you. And I am so proud of that.
You learned to say please and thank you, wash your hands, play with playdoh, cut with scissors, use a crayon, sing songs, learned your ABC’s, colors and shapes and even to write your name. You brought home beautiful artwork and my favorites among them were the ones you created for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Because of daycare and the excellent care you’ve received, you learned and experienced so much more than you would have if you had stayed confined at our home. Yes, you had more colds than normal and don’t forget the year when you had strep for 9 months straight, but you also had the opportunity to learn many new things like sharing and waiting your turn and most importantly you made good friends. You had the benefits of a routine and that served you so much.
When you reached 4 years old, you could no longer go to Maria’s anymore because you had to attend VPK(Pre-K). We struggled with the idea of leaving you with her for one more year, but she re-assured us that it was best decision for you. After a few months, we enrolled you at a new school and you were set for VPK in the Fall of 2013. Leaving her care was one of the hardest decisions we have had to make as your parents and now we had to explain it to you. But you were very understanding and were very excited about starting a new school too. I loved that you asked if you could bring a goodbye gift for her and you picked flowers and chocolate just like we had every year since you were a year old when we brought flowers to celebrate her on Mother’s Day as your “daytime Mom”.
At your new school, you had the benefit of dedicated teachers who taught you new things every day through very creative lesson plans. Your vocabulary changed and evolved so much during that time. You have learned so much from those passionate and very patient teachers at a great school. It took a little bit for you to get used to going there, but after a few weeks of tears and lots of hugs, you stayed willingly. I was worried during the day but when I saw your happy face when I picked you up, I knew you were going to be OK. You also made good friends and they got excited to see you in the morning when we dropped you off. It was as if you brought light into the room.
It is so true what they say that life goes by very fast. It seemed like I just took you to your first day at school and it was already time for your graduation. Wow, what a special moment that was! How proud I was when I dressed you up in your cap and gown and walked you inside for the ceremony. When I heard your name as you walked to get your diploma I got teary-eyed and you were asked what you wanted to be when you grow up and you said “Karate Instructor!” Whatever profession you choose, please remember to choose something that makes you happy, something that you enjoy so much that you cannot wait to do it again and again each day. Most importantly, always love and respect others because having this attitude will get you so much further.
Next week you start Kindergarten and a whole new chapter in your life. I remember when we moved into our house 10 years ago and how excited we were that one day when we had kids they could attend the elementary school in our new neighborhood. Fast forward 5 years and here you are.
Santiago, you are so special and you bring light everywhere you go. Each and every day we have seen that at daycare. And while this is your last day, it will be the beginning of an even bigger adventure.
Next week, you will start Kindergarten and you will have a chance to bring light to new set of teachers and friends and to a whole new room and building.
With love ALWAYS,
– As Working Moms, sometimes we feel guilty for not being at home with our children. There are great caregivers out there who genuinely love children and take care of them while we can’t. I encourage you to say thank you those caregivers who have made a difference in your child’s life while he or she is attending daycare. I know you will make their day.