We’ve been doing pretty much the same drop-off and pick-up routine since my son started daycare at 4 months old. I drop him off in the mornings, and my husband does the pick-ups. When this routine started, it made the most sense for our schedules. And even with the shift in work environments over the last couple of years, we still stick to it for the most part.

Sometimes, though, things happen and we need to make adjustments. Unfortunately, our son is a creature of habit and a major daddy’s boy. He likes routine and does not adapt well to change. He’s also very dramatic, which he totally inherited from his theatre nerd mama. Whoops.

I worked at a daycare in high school and college, so I’m well versed in how pick-ups are far more appealing than drop-offs. Drop-offs can be difficult for both the child and parent — it’s a stressful rush to get ready and out the door so early in the morning, goodbyes can be hard, there’s a long day ahead. But pick-ups are always exciting because you get to go home after a busy day and reunite with your family!

My son has always liked going to daycare and only had separation anxiety when everything reopened after COVID lockdowns. It was a bit of a readjustment for the first week, but he settled back in quickly. The first few days back, I was the pick-up hero in addition to doing the drop-offs. I looked forward to seeing his face light up and have him run toward me yelling, “Mommy!” Because previously, I had rarely, if ever, done pick-ups.

But soon, my husband started pick-ups again, and our old schedule returned. One day, it became apparent that if I was working from home and my husband was running late or stuck in traffic, it made more sense for me to pick up our kiddo. The first time I arrived, there were tears shed — he had gotten used to Daddy picking him up. After this repeated itself a few times, I began giving his teacher a heads up by sending her a text so she could let him know and prepare him for my arrival. Doing this means there are fewer tears, but I’m still greeted with, “I want Daddy!” Doesn’t exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

On days when I forget to text our provider to inform her I’m going to be there in the afternoon or if she misses the notification, I feel like Maleficent crashing baby Aurora’s christening and cursing everyone in the place for not getting an invite. There are tears. A lot of them.

I’m not one who needs constant validation, but I could really use it on the days I do pick-ups. I keep telling myself he will grow out of this. I keep hoping the day will come when I will be greeted with a smile and a hug. I keep waiting for the day I will no longer be the daycare pick-up villain.

Lesley grew up in New Bedford, MA, came to Boston for college, and stuck around. She holds a master's degree in criminal justice and an MFA in creative writing. Lesley is a playwright and has had her work produced in Boston, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, and Texas. Lesley lives in Dorchester with her husband and 3-year-old son. She is a proud and unapologetic "one and done" mom. Lesley loves traveling, true crime docs and inspired scripted series, reading, coffee, face masks, and family game nights.