When my son was in daycare, I sent him off five days a week, even if I wasn’t working. I used the given time I had at home to catch up on chores, write articles, and work on the latest course I was taking.
One night, my daycare called to cancel for the next two days for personal reasons.
That’s okay, I tell her, I understand.
I remember the thought sinking in like slime oozing out it’s container: what will I do with my kid for the next two days?
My anxiety set in: how are you going to entertain him for two whole days?
Remember, I was a first time mom and my son was two and a half years old. I was clueless – about as clueless as I still am – and wasn’t sure what I’d do with this now walking and talking little human. I was home with him for fourteen months before I went back to work and it was all kinds of different.
I started running through scenarios in my mind. All day? Just me and him? Panic pulled up a chair, relaxed, and made itself comfortable as it usually does.
THIS IS MY KID FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
Why was I so anxious about spending the whole day with him?
Well, he was a toddler – a busy toddler – and he had begun to up his game with whining and defiance. He didn’t waste any time once he learned these incredible skills.
My boy was being – as I was told – a typical two-and-a-half-year-old child and I’m the neurotic mother who overlooks every single thing. Not a great combo.
As always, I immediately assumed that the days were going to be rough and that he was going to be a mini-terror. I wasn’t then, as I’m not now, shocked that I went straight to the negative instead of the positive, which was being able to spend an extra two whole days with my little man, who I love dearly.
Instead, I was saddened by the revelation that I wasn’t shocked. That stage was a special time. He’s growing and every day is a new day, with new words and new discoveries. I should have been excited that I had some extra days to be with him instead of fearing them.
But the truth is that I did fear them. I was afraid I couldn’t live up to his expectations. I was afraid he’d make me crazy and I’d get impatient with him. I was afraid because I couldn’t understand what’s going on in this tiny human’s mind.
Newsflash: those expectations are created by me, not him.
Looking back, I have the same insecurities and fears that I have now, but I’m better equipped and a bit more secure in my abilities. I know I can’t possibly be the only parent out there who gets anxious about being home all day with their children. I’m almost positive I’m not the only one who panics when I have to take the day off work to be with my child.
But this is parenting and it’s almost like an unwritten rule that you must think you’re the only one dealing with what you’re dealing with. But you aren’t. You never were and you never will be.
Yes, being with my kid alone for days at a time tends to cause me anxiety and panic, but we get through it because we have to. I hear selling your kid to travel circuses is frowned upon, so we make due with what we have and take it one day at a time.
Originally written in 2016