Today, I choked back tears as I picked my youngest daughter up from her Family Day Care Mom for the last time. These emotions caught me by surprise as I was sometimes critical of this mother's care-giving methods, knowing they did not always align with my peaceful and respectful parenting philosophies.
What I realized today as I embraced this wonderful carer in what seemed like an empty gesture of gratitude, was just how thankful I am that she came into Penny's life. I understand now that when the care of my children is coming from a place of true kindness and love, the methods adopted do not always have to align with mine. This is an honest letter to her.
The day has come that we have to let you go. You came into our daughter's life when she was just 18 months old. She was still a baby. She was vulnerable. She was timid and she was still trying to make sense of herself and her world.
Penny, a gentle soul, walked into your home after a traumatic experience at her previous center. She was fearful. She clung to me with every ounce of her being, howling as I regretfully left her with you for my first day in my new job. I couldn't concentrate that day as I worried about how she was coping. I phoned you every hour to check but didn't always believe you when you told me she was fine.
I couldn't imagine how she could possibly be fine in such a short time. I picked her up that day. She was happy to see me. I wished with all my might she didn't have to go to care. No one knew her like I did. No one could care for her like I could. I couldn't trust. I couldn't let go of the horror I had felt when I realised she had been mistreated previously.
I questioned you suspiciously, often. I was critical. I complained to my husband about the way you handled different situations that arose with the children in your care, even though they were well-intended. I wondered if I would ever feel confident sending Penny to you or anywhere for that matter.
I now know my worries were unnecessary and I could.
No one outside my friends and family has shown my daughter more love than you have. From the very first day Penny walked through your front door you truly cared for her, not just her body but her spirit.
You looked past her timidness and saw a beautiful, thoughtful, deliberate little girl. You protected her against hurt from other children that might have crushed her bruised soul. You brought out her assertiveness and helped her stand up for herself. In our home she was given many opportunities to work through conflict and develop those skills but your place was her retreat, her haven. A place where she could play in peace; where her non-confrontational and introverted soul was nurtured.
You observed Penny from the beginning. You let her grow in her own unique way and you carefully watched. Your reflections in her day journal showed me you "got her." And though it pains me to say, I think perhaps that sometimes you "got her" more than we did. I love this though and I can see that Penny's uniqueness has not just been fostered but treasured as you lovingly described her quaint little tendencies.
When Penny was upset, you comforted her. You kissed away her tears and made it your priority to make her happy. Once, I would have frowned upon this. "Let her have her feelings," I would have said. But I realize that through your gentle words and calming actions, you won the heart of my daughter. She felt truly safe in your care. She knew her feelings were valid. We told her that everyday. She learned to understand your kind-hearted intentions just as you strove to understand hers.
Your center was your home and your job was your joy. In the time Penny was in your care, she could not have helped but be influenced by your hugely generous heart and kind spirit. I loved that you would make each child feel special on important days, not just with simple gestures but creativity that could only have meant you spent hours of your own time to make it happen. Not a week would go by when you didn't excitedly show me another play object you had bought for the children from your own pocket.
Penny has left your care a year older in size and development but I can think of no measure to describe how much richer, spirited, confident and happier she is.
Penny walked out of your gates for the last time today but I have no doubt she will forever stay in your heart as you will in hers.
Sorry for doubting,