The Fear of Leaving Your Baby for the First Time

mom and baby first time away

Do you have a fear of leaving your baby?

I was thrilled to get a call a few weeks back, from the owner of a preschool that I have been in talks with about working for occasionally. She had a list of some dates she was interested in having me join as an extra educator on hand. Only 2-hour classes, I would easily be able to leave my not-quite-year-old daughter with a variety of caring and capable arms, and as I would be there in addition to the required ratio of teachers, the owner assured me there would be no guilt if I needed to call in for those possible mommy-related problems. Perfect!

mom and baby first time away fear of leaving your baby
Photo by Billie Woods Photography.

As an Early Childhood Educator, there are certain requirements you have to meet in order to keep your license current. Professional development hours, hour working in licensed centres, and of course continuing to be certified in a specific first aid course. Now, as my latest certificate just expired, I will need to do this before I can work at the preschool, so I registered for a class this coming Friday.

An all day class.

THIS COMING FRIDAY.

Obviously, a wee babe may not be a welcome addition to the learning environment, so I arranged for my little lady to spend the day at the home of a lovely caregiver who has just started watching one of the little buddies from our baby group. Although we are extremely blessed to have my husband’s father and step-mom living close by and happy to keep a watchful eye on Z, for a variety of reasons we chose to enlist the care of home-based daycare this time. For one, it will be a longer day, and having a few other animals and older kids around will hopefully help keep our baby busy and distracted from the fact that her mama will be away for more than 7 hours.

So as the day draws closer, I’ve noticed my stomach getting queasier and queasier with the thought of dropping my one and only offspring in the care of someone who isn’t part of our family for the longest time away from me yet. And here I thought I had a great hold on being able to share the care of my babe with others without worrying too much.

So what am I afraid of? Yes, part of it lies in the thought of something happening to her – something unsafe, or unkind, or unsettling – but that’s not really the biggest part. I trust and highly respect the care I’m sending her into, so although those are all highly important factors to me, I don’t think that’s all of it.

I’m just slightly terrified.

Terrified that my baby, the most important piece of my life at the moment (and likely for the rest of my life), will love me less. I’m fearful that I will come back to “save her” and she won’t even care. I know that’s supposed to be seen as a good thing, and I agree that it is, but it’s also a little upsetting. Even though I may not admit it when she’s clinging to me while I struggle to finish dinner, or waking up every hour to feed, I want her to want me more than anyone else in the world. I want to be the most exciting, inspiring, soothing teacher in her life. I don’t want anyone else to take a piece of that away from me.

I realize how silly that might seem, and how important and enriching it is to have the village raise your child. Of course she’ll still want her mama after a mere 7 hours of being in someone else’s care, but I can’t shake that fear.

I want her to be confident without me, to be less dependent on me being right there, but at the same time I don’t want her to feel that for anyone else.

Damn these double-edged swords. You just can’t have it all.

Oh well. Let’s carry on and see what Friday holds.

 

*Update* Here’s how it went.

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