I had no doubt my heart would be broken that Valentine’s Day in 2007. You see, I’d given birth to my baby girl on January 21st. Just over three weeks passed and I was standing on the doorstep of a woman I’d barely even spoken with, ready to hand over my precious newborn.
I stood there for what seemed like eternity, staring at the door. It was a beige door, framed by a pretty, upscale brick house. I guess that should’ve made me feel better, in some weird, only in today’s-society kind of way. She had a nice house, so surely—she was a good person? That’s the way it works, right?
I kept staring, holding my sleeping infant close to my chest. I’d dressed her special that day, in cute little jeans with a heart on them and a matching heart onesie. Being a new mother, I didn’t know the obvious…that jeans were uncomfortable and that babies actually preferred to be in soft clothing. Well, at least she festively matched for the holiday on her first day of daycare.
I reached my hand up to knock, but then I heard Callie whimper and quickly pulled away. I patted her soft head of dark, messy hair. Why was I dropping her off only after three weeks I again asked myself? Oh yes…that’s right. I had to. I’d been working in an insurance agency for about two years. I only had three weeks of time to take off, and with my husband and me struggling to make ends meet …that’s all I could take. Besides, I was lucky—wasn’t I? Most of the other ladies in my office with children had taken only two weeks off…
Abruptly, a short, beautiful Puerto Rican woman opened the door. I wondered if I’d even knocked? Her eyes filled with confusion as she waved me inside. “Come on in, Trina. How long have you been out here?”
She seemed to sense my fears, or at least knew of them due to past experience, and gestured for me to sit on her couch. Her white carpet looked impeccable, not a spot anywhere. I looked around at the five other young children playing with toys, wondering how on earth she kept her house so perfect. Not a spec of dust anywhere on her expensive furniture. Was this a good sign?
I didn’t think so.
We chatted for a few minutes, mostly me reminding Aurea of Callie’s schedule. I laugh now at this notion—schedule? At three weeks? There was no schedule! And the gleam in Aurea’s eyes said she knew this, too.
I hugged my tiny little baby girl close to my chest, and then passed her away for the first time. Aurea immediately set her in a bouncy chair and bustled off into the kitchen, which made me only want to stay longer. She should be held! All the time! I tried to stay strong and forced myself to leave. I drove away, crying. And not just a tear or two…real tears. A veritable deluge washing down my face. What kind of terrible mother leaves her baby at such a young age? What kind of life was I already setting her up for? Little did I know, it was only the beginning of the long list of failures I’d blame myself for as a mother.
I did call to check on Callie about four times that day; thankfully, Aurea was patient and friendly. Although I was concerned about my leaving my daughter, I knew deep down, she was in great hands. I’d specially picked Aurea, who had a huge list of references. There is about three or four ladies who did daycare in the town where I worked. They worked together and were friends—all coming with high recommendations and all typically full and taking no more kids. I still think Aurea was a huge blessing.
Sometimes, as mothers, we have to know what’s best for our children…even if it’s tough. I believe that Aurea brought something to, not only my child, but my family, that I couldn’t. She was patient, loving, smart, and incredibly experienced in the area of child-rearing and care-taking. By the time Callie was two, she was taking naps at the same time every day. She was cleaning up and putting all her toys back where they belonged. She was eating a well-balanced lunch and not complaining a lick about it. She was reading books and singing songs I never thought a two-year-old could sing. And she had a heart of gold and a giving nature that I believe only partly could’ve been born in her and partly taught to her.