It’s all sunshine and smiles when you have friends! The end of October will mark one year since Liliana started daycare and, if you are thinking I'm getting emotional over here, you are correct. I mean look at this little muffin:
The Reason Why I Hesitated Putting Lili in Daycare
When I was a teenager I used to think I was going to be the mom that sent her child to daycare immediately when she turned 6 months old. Little did I know about separation anxiety and financial commitment. Not to mention I never imagined having a kid with Down syndrome, so I just thought I was going to drop my kid at daycare and go and be a businesswoman for the day. That was a nice dream, right? My perspective about sending Liliana to daycare did not change when I received her diagnosis. It changed when I realized I was not a “businesswoman” and I was not made from money! As Lili started receiving services through our county’s early intervention program, I also realized how effective it was to be at home and be present for her therapies. Although, I still needed to contribute and help my husband provide for our family financially. My mother-in-law took care of Lili after during the days after my maternity leave was over and then I was lucky enough to have my mom visit from Colombia to take care of Lili for six months. I didn’t have to worry about having a stranger in my house and my daughter was in the best hands. When the six months were up, we had to make a decision and find daycare for Lili and we were lucky to find one! But she quit on us even before Lili started. She said she wouldn’t be the best fit to take care of Lili. Until this day, my heart tells me she was fearful of taking care of a baby with Down syndrome. I will never know for sure. We didn’t have a babysitter or a plan B. I was feeling defeated.
I am one that believes that things happen for a reason. A few days later, I was offered a job at my friend’s business where I was going to be able to work and take care of Lili at the same time! They didn’t even mind if Lili came with me some days. I took the job without hesitation.
For the first year, it worked out perfectly, but Lili grew and she was not a baby anymore! She became a… toddler! 😭 It was impossible to bring her to work without her trying to go and play! That’s when I started the daycare hunt. In less than two weeks we heard about Ms. Sara at our local library and when I asked the librarian about her, she just said “oh yes, she is the nicest person. Very sweet.” I was intrigued. Our librarian gave Ms. Sara our information and later that day we received a call from her and we set up an appointment for my husband, Lili, and myself to meet her and see where Lili would potentially receive her care. I intentionally did not tell her that Lili had Down syndrome because we wanted to see her raw reaction when meeting Lili for the first time. With our anxiety running high, we arrived and knocked on Ms. Sara’s door. She opened the door and welcomed us in very warmly and with excitement. She greeted Lili and told her how beautiful she was and how excited she was to meet her. She didn’t bat an eye or flinch for even a split second (we were watching closely). A few minutes into our conversation we explained to Ms. Sara “as you can probably tell, Lili has Down syndrome. Is that something that would make you uncomfortable? She matter-of-factly told us “not at all” and reassured us that Lili is 100% welcome with her and to just let us know if she needed any special considerations in relation to her care. Wow, what a relief.
Lili started daycare at almost 2yrs. It wasn’t easy in the beginning for her or for me, but soon I started seeing a change in Lili. She started babbling more and listening to instructions a little bit better! She started to pretend play and enjoying stickers and stamps. She started to be more outgoing!! And the most exciting thing: She made friends! I can’t emphasize enough how crucial her socialization has been for her development. Our daycare friends LOVE Lili. She currently goes twice a week and the other kids call those days “Lili days” and are excited to see her. They help her with achieving her milestones like riding a riding toy around the block. They have lunch together and she mimics their feeding behavior. She feels like a big girl now and she is thriving! Ms. Sara even encourages Lili’s therapists to set up sessions in her daycare, allowing Ms. Sara to learn skills that she can then reinforce with Lili while in her care. Is this lady even real?! ❤
I would not change this feeling for anything in the world. Lili has friends and her support group is growing! Her daycare friends joined our buddy walk this year and attended our #LiliMcawesome Buddy Walk team fundraisers.
It’s ok to be scared and wanted to protect your child from the world. It’s ok to cry sometimes when you drop off your child at daycare or school. But always make sure to challenge your child and allow them the opportunity to show the world how awesome he or she is! Give them room to grow. Share your child with the world. It will teach others how to be kind, how to help others, how to love and share!
I am so grateful for Ms. Sara who is always willing to help Lili, and her willingness to apply the therapy skills she has learned during daycare time. We are forever grateful.
We are thankful for all the sunshine and smiles!