Grown-Ups Come Back

As we prepared our now three year old for her first days in pre-K3, I would play Daniel Tiger’s song “Grown-Ups Come Back” on repeat. We hadn’t spent enough time in church nurseries or MDO programs for her to really grasp the concept of getting dropped off anywhere without us. 

It goes like this:

Even when we go away
Grown-ups come back
Will you pick me up when I go to school?
Yep, at the end of day because that’s the rule
Grown-ups come back
Grown-ups come back to you
Grown-ups come back they do
Grown-ups come back

I’ll never forget her first day and how incredibly bizarre it felt to join a carpool line for my own child. We played the song over and over as I made every effort to seem excited and optimistic about the unfamiliar. 

Honestly, I was shaking. When the transfer from car to teacher didn’t go horrifically, I drove away with a pit in my stomach. I felt like I was leaving a limb behind. I went home with the baby and anxiously waited for updates from the staff. They sent a few pictures and gave me a little taste of reassurance — just enough to get me through the morning without a panic attack.

I picked her up before lunchtime, and all was well. We did it. And she was 100% okay.

toddler watching Daniel Tiger on television

Less than a week ago, I was preparing to leave my girls for the first time in a very long time. In fact, it would be my first time ever leaving our 11 month old for more than a couple hours. 

My mom would stay with them for a couple days until my husband could take over on the weekend. I trust both of them more than anyone on the planet, but I still had that same pit in my stomach from the first day of school. 

I wrote out our routine in a Word document, highlighting the specific times for bottles, naps and meals. I left notes at the bottom as I thought of them … Putting P down: close door, sleep sack, say night night to animals on the wall, sound machine on, lights off, rock and sing a song or two, lay down and hand her lovey, walk out.

My mom knew exactly what to do. I just felt like it needed to be recorded somewhere. 

We revisited our favorite song as we talked about my trip. I told them I would be going away for a few days with my friends, but I would come back in no time. 

“Because grown-ups come back?” my toddler asked. 

“Exactly! I’ll always come back.”

It’s a song for kids, but … it’s really for us parents. I needed so badly to communicate the concept of coming and going because the last thing in the world I wanted was for my three year old to feel abandoned.

She loves the song. As young as she is, I do believe she understands the message. And while she could probably live without it, I continue to insist on singing it before our drop offs. I sang it before my trip. I pretty much sing it all the time because it’s almost constantly stuck in my head. 

I need that song. I need her to understand.

When I look over the schedule I left for my mom and husband, I know it was really more for me than anyone. Without a doubt, leaving is the hardest part. The goodbyes might be hard for the little ones for a brief moment, but once I’m gone, they are still left with a routine that keeps things normal for them. 

But me? Nothing is normal about being alone in a car for 5 hours. As necessary as it is for us to take a break every now and then, it will never feel natural.

I had moments when I was away on my trip where I felt incredibly guilty, but I kept hearing her little voice singing, “Even when we go away, grooooown-ups come baaack…”

They knew I was coming back. As usual, Daniel Tiger saves the day.

Mary Grace Pinkard is a mom of two precious girls, Harvey (2.5) and Palmer (5 months) and wife to Chad, a physician currently in his pediatric residency at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. She’s originally from Laurel, Mississippi, and attended the University of Georgia. After college, Mary Grace worked in public relations and advertising. While she now stays at home with her girls, she’s a certified sleep consultant and the social media director for The Cradle Coach, a baby and toddler sleep consulting company serving families worldwide. She doesn’t know exactly what she enjoys doing in her spare time because "spare time currently doesn’t exist"…yet, she wouldn’t have it any other way. Mary Grace is all about sharing her motherhood moments with zero filter, embracing the messy and connecting with other moms through the raw and the real (sometimes hilarious) struggles motherhood brings. If you're looking for sleep tips, be sure to follow @thecradlecoach on Instagram!


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