Today, is proud to welcome AVM as our fabulous guest blogger.  She has provided us with incredible and invaluable advice over the past few years about parenting, love, and life in general, and we think you’ll love what she has to say about her daughter (referred to as “A”).  Enjoy!

I roll my eyes as I ponder the list of people I need to buy holiday gifts for – my father’s uncle’s new wife, my second cousin’s  son, my husband’s assistant, on and on.  People I don’t even want to see, much less buy gifts for.  Even in this economy, while we’re cutting back, there are just people you have to buy for.  And after all the gifts are bought and wrapped, I think about the people who really matter.  The biggest gifts should go to the deserving souls who are my daughter A’s daycare teachers.  Amongst moms with children in daycare, “the holiday gift” is big talk.  Group gift? Cookies?  Gift card? Cash? How much?  Who to include?  Too much? Not enough? It’s a lot to think about.  We have a unique situation where we are not allowed to give gifts to individual teachers.  For me, it’s about being thankful and taking a step back to realize the enormous role these people play in our lives.    

These teachers are my family.  They take care of my daughter like she is their own.  And, if I’m honest, with more patience and creativity than her own mother can muster.  I am lucky enough to work on the same campus as A’s daycare center.  As I bound from one meeting to another, I have been stopped in my tracks seeing things that warm my heart.  I have seen them comfort her with huge hugs, teach her about the flowers in the playground, and dance and sing songs with words and melodies I do not know. They don’t know I’m watching, but I have seen them let her spread her wings and climb higher than I would allow her to on the play set.  I have seen them foster her autonomy by allowing her to work out arguments on her own and by having her clean up her own finger painting station.  Always a gentle reminder, a sweet word, a kind smile.  This is good for her.  And way different than how things play out in my own home.

Last week, after a particularly long day at the office, I trudged to the daycare to begin my evening routine.  Pick up daughter, drive home, feed, bathe, book, bed.  Rinse and repeat into the perpetuity that is the hamster wheel of my life (or so it seems sometimes).  I opened the door to see the few remaining children who had yet to be picked up.  There was my daughter.  Beaming, playing, focused. . .happy.  She sees me and the world melts away for both of us.  “MOMMY!”, she screams as she runs at me with her arms wide open.  Big, big hug, and I’m kissing her cheeks to no end . . .and then I remember: it’s getting late, have to get home, what are we having for dinner, we have to run!  “Come on, Lovey, let’s get your coat on.”  To which her teacher calmly said, “A can do it herself. “  Huh?  And sure enough, they taught her to do it.  Coat on the floor, upside down, up and over her head, and there it was.  It was on.  She did it herself.

Here is yet another example of stuff A learns without me teaching her.  Because let’s face the facts – being home with me all day doesn’t involve a whole lot of teaching and learning, nothing intentional at least.  Mostly it’s whatever she can pick up about life as I shuttle her from the drug store to the grocery store to the cleaners and back home again.  As much as the first few days and weeks of daycare pained me, it’s the best thing that ever happened to us.  And it was and still is a humbling experience to admit to yourself that someone else can do this job better than you can – especially when the job is that important.    I feel no jealousy or ill-will.  No feelings like I am “missing” something or that I am inadequate.  I’m not.  I feel nothing but gratitude to these women who hold up our family’s world and keep it spinning on its axis.  A is lucky to have so many people in her life who love her.  And they do love her.  At the end of the day, I am still my daughter’s favorite person.  This is the life we have set up.  The one that works for us.  My daughter will be better for it, and her father and I both know it.  And the more time that passes, the more I realize that my favorite people on the planet are the ones who are good to my daughter.  I may put that in the card of the gigantic holiday gift basket I’m sending them, because “thank you” is not enough.