There have been a lot of firsts this week. Our baby, H, had her first taste of solids yesterday. Some pureed carrots, mixed with breast milk, that mostly dripped out of her mouth and pooled in the pouch at the bottom of her bib. Unlike when S, our older daughter, started solids, this time around I welcome the transition away from being the sole provider of nutrients. Selfishly, I’m ready to have my body back to myself.
The most significant first of the week: S started preschool. Originally we were wait listed at this school, our first choice, but we were able to secure a spot in their after school program, and so she was able to start today, two months into the school year.
Aside from the childcare room at the gym I go to, the three hours she spent at school today marked the first time she has been at an activity without either myself, her father, a grandparent, or her nanny present. In my heart I knew S would be okay; I was more worried about my ability to walk away. It was a bit of an awkward drop-off for me in that we are entering into a pre-existing routine with kids and parents who have already reached their strides, therefore I didn’t have any other first-timers with whom to commiserate. The whole process was pretty anti-climactic. Before I knew it, I found myself enjoying a frozen yogurt on the subway ride home, not a twinge of guilt or worry in sight.
Getting S ready for bed tonight, I removed her diaper to reveal a rash caused by a shoddy post-poop clean up job at school. That’s when it hit me: I am entrusting the care of my daughter, in, at times, a very intimate way, to strangers. Yes, they are warm and energetic and are, no doubt, great at what they do, but when it came to changing S’s diaper today they did not have the time, or put in the same care, that I would have. It broke my heart a little. But then I remembered S’s smiling face when I picked her up, and the resounding “Yes!” she gave me when I asked her if she wanted to go back to school tomorrow. While the diaper rash is something that will not go unmentioned when I speak with her teacher tomorrow, the bigger picture is coming into clear focus: My little S is starting the first of many experiences that will no longer involve me, over which I exert little influence. If only that were as easy to swallow as some pureed carrots.