It’s so strange to me how different my reactions to situations have been since having my second baby. I have become angry when a cup has been put away with the handle facing the “wrong” way. It’s totally ridiculous.
I’m aware of most of these reactions but they’re usually out of my control. My poor husband tries to understand but it’s hard for him too. He shouldn’t have to deal with my erratic mood swings but he does.
These reactions have made me question my judgement quite a lot. I now just assume I’m overreacting to a situation and try and calm my reaction down. But sometimes I wonder if maybe my reaction was originally correct and by pulling back I’m actually underreacting.
My three-year-old started daycare for the first time at the beginning of September. He’s been dying to go and we finally managed to get him a spot (this was also a challenge and maybe I’ll talk about that another time). I was feeling a lot of anxiety leading up to his first day because I hope that being one on one with the new baby will help me feel more on top of things.
The timing wasn’t great because my husband planned a camping trip with his friends for the night before our three-year-old’s first day. I told him it was okay for him to go. Because of everything going on in the world and at home we didn’t really celebrate his 40th birthday and he really deserves to do something he loves. We all need to take care of ourselves these days.
Anyway, I was left facing a day and a night and a day with no break from the kids. It definitely affected my anxiety. So much so that I mentioned it to a couple of my friends. One fabulous friend actually came over with her three-year-old for the day so that I would have some help with the kids. It was so nice of her and I’m extremely grateful. She arranged lunch and dinner that day so I could focus on triple checking I had everything ready for the first day of daycare.
My first night alone with two kids went okay. They were fine. I got around three hours sleep but that was because of the anxiety not the kids. I was organised though.
The morning went really well. We got up easily. My three-year-old actually jumped out of bed saying “let’s go to daycare.” He listened to me and ate his breakfast without argument (not a normal occurrence). We got out the door within five minutes of my planned departure time.
I’d mapped our walk multiple times before we left and I only checked my phone for directions three times on the way there. It’s literally a straight walk along the highway so it really wasn’t necessary to check so much but checking and rechecking things helps push my anxiety down.
I realised halfway there that I’d forgotten a pen (they want the parents to bring a pen to sign the kids in because of covid-19). I panic a little inside but there’s nothing I can do about it now.
Dropping him off goes well. He listens to me and waits patiently while I put his stuff away in his cubby. He wasn’t too impressed with the forehead thermometer but eventually he let the teacher take his temperature. He didn’t even say goodbye to me, he was too excited to go in and play.
I was planning on waiting nearby just in case he needed to be picked up early but I decided that I needed to force myself to be productive while he was there. So, I walked home and did some house work. It was amazing being able to do things with just a baby around. The quiet really helped my mood.
At 10am my phone rang and I freaked out when the daycare’s number popped up. Everything was fine and they just needed to discuss an administrative issue. It took me a little while to calm down after that.
At noon I put the baby back into the stroller and we went to pick up his big brother. Even though I wanted to check my map on the way back I didn’t. I told myself I was being silly. I have a really good sense of direction and I just use the map as a way to deal with anxiety.
I rang the bell when I got there and waited for them to bring him out. Parents aren’t allowed to go in at pick up times. This actually works better for my anxiety so in one way the pandemic works for me, I suppose.
The teacher brought him out and he followed calmly. My oldest child is not calm. No one would describe him as calm. I’ve actually had strangers come up to me and tell me how active he is. When I saw him calmly following the teacher I was really happy. I thought maybe he’d been okay.
The teacher told me that he’d spat on the floor, put his feet on the table at snack time and didn’t listen when it was time to move to a new activity. The last one didn’t surprise me and I suppose the first two didn’t either but I was really upset. I wasn’t upset with him because I know he’s still learning. It was just that those were very serious issues, particularly the spitting, and I really need this daycare thing to work.
I calmly responded to the teacher because I’m a master to hiding my freak outs. I sat my three-year-old in the stroller next to his little brother and we walked home. My knuckles were white on the handle of the stroller.
The next day when I picked him up they told me he threw some toys and still wasn’t sitting properly. He also wasn’t listening to the teachers. I calmly talked to my son about why he has to listen and he can’t throw things. I was still freaking out. There’s so much at stake here.
I’ve spoken to a couple of my friends with kids who’ve been through daycare and they both said his behaviour sounded normal but I’m still worried because I need this to work. I need this time to help centre myself and work on getting better.
The first month is a trial so I’m just hoping that he’ll calm down enough that they’ll let him stay. I completely understand that he needs to follow directions. They can’t have a teacher one-on-one with him because it’s not fair or safe for the other children.
Would I react differently if I wasn’t struggling?
I can’t answer that. Part of the problem with postpartum depression and anxiety is you can’t really analyse your reactions in the moment. Once the moment is passed you can thing about what happened and imagine different reactions. Imagined reactions are rarely the same as real reactions.
I feel that I’m overreacting to things but when it’s a new experience, like dropping my son off at daycare, I have nothing to compare it to. All I can do is look at my reactions and work on myself to make them something more reasonable.