I’m sending my toddler to daycare for the first time—but I’m not ready

The idea of my son being outside the safety of our house—and isolation—is giving me so much anxiety.

I’m sending my toddler to daycare for the first time—but I’m not ready

I knew the day would come. I was actually kind of looking forward to it. Having our toddler pose with a little letterboard that celebrated his first day at day care—taking a step from being a baby to a big boy (as he calls himself when I say he is my baby). I wanted it to be special, both for him and for us as parents. But now that time has come in the middle of a pandemic and with everything happening in the country right now, I'm not ready.

The idea of my son being outside the safety of our house—and isolation—is giving me so much anxiety it's making me question if this is even a good idea.

But here's the catch: We have no other option. Like many families around the country, we have no support system near us, and the global pandemic has cut our finances short so we need outside help for us to keep working to pay the bills.

I also know that he will probably love it. He hasn't seen any children his age in months. He hasn't played with anyone but us for months. I feel like the pandemic has robbed him of precious time with his friends so I'm also excited to see him make new ones, discover new dynamics, learn and grow more.

Maybe he'll finally make the leap and stop wearing diapers.

Maybe he'll talk even more.

Maybe he'll learn how to share.

Maybe the anxiety I'm feeling is normal.

Maybe this is what all parents feel when their little ones are not so little anymore and it's time for them to move to the next stage in life.


But something that should be exciting is knocking the wind out of me every time I think about it.

Are we putting him in danger? Are we putting our whole family in danger? After months of total isolation, it feels like such a drastic measure to take, to open our exposure to other families through our son,who is basically a walking petri dish. But at some point, we are going to have to do it, right?

There's also the added factor that he speaks mostly in Spanish. Our family moved out of New York City at the beginning of the pandemic to a predominately white town. Will other kids bully him when he says rojo instead of red? Will he forget all the words I taught him now that he'll only be exposed to English-speaking teachers and kids? Will other parents look at me differently because I don't look or sound like them?

I look at him playing in the sand by himself, excited while he makes his trucks explore every corner of the sandbox my husband built him last week. In my head, the pros and cons keep playing out. I smile at him trying to hold back my tears. The truth is, I don't know if this is the right thing to do.

But like so many other aspects of motherhood, I don't have the answer. I just have to go with it and see what happens.

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