My son turns 3 today, so I decided to repost a few choice blogs from the first year after he was born.
He smells different.
At the end of the day, Appleseed smells like the daycare. It's similar to how an airplane or a hotel room smells, that attempt to make something sanitized that will never ever be sanitized. I smell it when I kiss his head. He doesn't smell like us.
I don't think Nicole has noticed because I've done a good job of re-scenting him before she gets home. I sit on the couch with him and give him Sophie the Giraffe, which he promptly sticks in his mouth and gums like crazy. He slobbers everywhere. I kiss his cheeks, his head, the spot where his neck and his head connect which makes him squeal with happiness.
The squeal is muted. There's less energy to it. His smiles don't come as quickly. His giggles are harder to come by. And he smells different.
There's a logical explanation for it. Besides the sensory overload, Appleseed doesn't sleep at daycare, not like he should. They can rock him to sleep, but he wakes up when they try to put him in the crib. So when I pick him up, he's tired, too tired to humor his father. After I've gotten my fill of drowning him with affection, I decide to rock him to sleep. It doesn't take long.
The best way to make sure Appleseed will not just sleep, but sleep for a long period of time, is to sleep with him. So I take him into our bedroom, lie him on the bed, crawl in next to him, and tip him over on to his side. He likes to sleep on his side, he just can't maintain it on his own. We'll spend the next two hours or so like this.
It's during this time that the smell fades. Cuddled up in bed, cuddled up next to daddy, he begins to smell like us again.
After the long nap, he starts to perk up. His energy returns. And mommy comes home. The smiles come fast and furious. The giggles and squeals are back. Appleseed has returned.
I know that he's fine at daycare but that doesn't mean I like it. That doesn't mean I don't feel like simultaneously throwing up and crying when I drop him off, and that's after I make it out the door. Up until
that point, I feel like taking him back home and skipping work.
He's in the infant room at his daycare, and the teacher to student ratio maxes out at 4-1, although it's probably more reasonable to say 3-1, as one of them is almost always asleep. But between diapers, bottles, and tantrums, how much attention can those three really get?
When I drop Appleseed off in the morning, I put him in a boppy and I find him a couple of toys. That's how I leave him and it has, so far, been how I've found him when I come back. It's a different boppy and they are different toys, but that's where he is, because he's a relaxed baby who can hang out like that.
And that's perfectly fine. I know he screams his head off when they change him or when they put him in a crib. I know he's happier on the boppy and he's certainly more quiet.
When I show up, he smiles, he squeals, and he kicks his arms and legs around, so I know he's happy to see me. I know he's still him. I know he's fine.
But I want him to be more than that.
Staying at home with Appleseed was exhausting, and I only had to do it three days a week. It took so much energy to stay engaged with him and I'll admit that I took a fair number of breaks. When four o'clock rolled around, it was time to watch a little bit of baseball. He'd zone out on it for a few minutes, but then get bored. But those few minutes were nice.
But I did my best, as I know Nicole did. She felt even more pressure than me, I think, to interact with Appleseed every minute he was awake. A lot of that is because of how much stuff she reads on the internet.
Our son his happy and energetic to the point where I'm a bit confused by it. I don't think we do anything special. We just love the heck out of him to an obnoxious degree. And, apparently, he responds to that.
Going to daycare means he's no longer getting that as much as he used to, and that makes me sad.
It's hard for me to think about Appleseed when he's at daycare because it breaks my heart. I sometimes have to force myself not to think about him because it's honestly too much. And I resent the fact that I have to stop myself from thinking about my son.
For the first three weeks of daycare, Appleseed will only be there 3 days a week. After that, he'll be full time, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, although as the guy who picks him up, I can guarantee you he'll never stay that late. I'll be skipping out of work early a lot more often.
I can't imagine what it will be like when he's there every weekday. It seems unbearable.
So the wheels are turning. Maybe we can handle three days a week and maybe that's all we need to handle. I just need to find a way to only work three days during the week.
Because I don't want him to be "fine." I don't want him to get the bare minimum of attention. I want him to have all the things he's had for the last 5 months.
He deserves all that and more.