Six years ago, I walked through the doors as one of those always-in-a-rush working mothers; heavy hearted and chested, having just weaned my first child off breastmilk.
I was going back to my “other” job, after spending a year being a full-time mother to my daughter.
I managed to somehow get through the dread and guilt, handing that wee package of blonde curls and toothless smiles to the outstretched arms of someone who was then a stranger.
I had to learn how to trust this person with the most important being in my life.
It was tough.
Going from changing nappies, mashing up baby food and singing lullabies, to interviewing artists about their latest projects and typing up their stories, was then a daunting task, and sometimes it still is.
Luckily, artists are, for the most part, forgiving and kind folks who appreciate any publicity and time you can give them, or why you can’t be at their event because you haven’t seen your kids all week.
The same cannot always be said about your kids, who question you on why you have to go to work in the first place.
It’s hard to explain the needs of a mortgage or rent, food on the table, clothes on our backs, and the payment of bills to a two year old.
But when it came time to leave my daughter –– and later my son –– in daycare after maternity leave, I was lucky to have the incredible support of the staff and fellow parents with the North Okanagan Child Care Society (NOCCS).
The non-profit group, which has been operating its group daycare centre out of the West Vernon Elementary building since the school closed its doors in 2007, has been a provider of our family’s second home for many of those precious years.
Since 1994, the NOCCS has provided a place where hundreds of local families –– on all incomes –– have relied on for quality care for their kids from infancy to grade school.
Although daycare is not an option, or a choice, for every parent, our family, with two working parents and very social kids, surely have benefitted. (And for those families needing to go back to work, but afraid of exorbitant daycare costs, subsidy programs are available.)
Not only did they make the transition of going back to work a whole lot easier, the early child care trained staff have prepared my kids for what lies ahead.
We have been with the NOCCS since my daughter, now seven, was 15 months old at the Blue Door centre, which is now closed. And she now goes to West Vernon Children’s Centre for their summer camps and occasionally for their after-school programs. In turn, my four-year-old son is just wrapping up his second year in the Montessori preschool program, after being in the infant-toddler programs before then.
From preschool French to Montessori-based teaching methods, my kids have learned so much, and I have the spelling of their first words, and drawings all over the walls in my house to prove it. They are treasures; the pieces of their young lives that I will hold onto as long as I live, or at least for as long as my house can hold them. I may need another filing cabinet.
The socialization and friendships made over the years have made them better little people.
Even when there have been some issues with my son, who can be a little aggressive like young boys can be, the staff have always handled it will utmost concern and care –– so much better than how I would handle it at home.
In two weeks, my boy will ease himself into full-time kindergarten, better prepared and ready to take on the challenges that he will face.
So as we get ready to say goodbye to all our friends and family at the NOCCS, I just want to say thanks, and we won’t be strangers. And to the mothers and fathers making the same transition we did six years ago, don’t worry, you’re in good hands.