I actually sat down and did the math.
That’s the number of times I’ve pulled in and out of this daycare parking lot over the past six years.
Each of my children started at the same daycare center seven minutes from my home when they were three months old. I cried as we pulled into the parking lot the first day, and I’ll cry today, the last day, for a different reason.
This was the place that cared for my children while I oscillated between loving my life as a working mom and being terrified I had made the wrong choice.
These are the people who answered my questions, and phone calls, and emails, with the patience and understanding of professionals who get that it’s hard to let go of a little hand.
This was the place that kept my children safe, happy, and engaged while I did what I needed to do to keep myself and my family safe, happy, and engaged. For us, that meant two working parents, careers we love, and a team that made it all possible.
These are the people I handed my children to as babies, and toddlers, and preschoolers and the people who looked at me with reassuring eyes when I needed it most.
Each season, my kids brought home handprint Mother’s Day cards, and cotton ball Christmas presents, and stick-figure drawings ensuring that my fridge stayed decorated and my heart stayed full.
Each day, I got a report about the grilled cheese sandwiches they ate, the game they played outside, and the letter they were learning to scrawl with crayon. Those reports kept me tethered to their days away from me and made me thankful someone with abundant patience was helping them explore with shaving cream and paint.
Monday will come and I won’t be making the seven-minute drive to this parking lot that morning, though I have a feeling there will be days when I turn left without thinking to make my way down that road.
It was this parking lot, this building, these people, that helped shape my children into the wonderful little humans they are today. They are smart, empathetic, inclusive, and brave. They are funny, loving, and kind.
This place has also shaped me.
I'm a little braver now too. A little more patient. A little bit stronger. A little more sure of myself and the mother I want to be for them and the professional I want to be for me.
Today is our last day pulling into the parking lot. And looking back on each of those days that helped create a life we love, a life full of learning, growth, and new friendships, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Thank you, from the bottom of this working mom’s heart. Thank you so much.