By Charles Bonello, CEO and First Time Dad
After the birth of my daughter, I think I experienced the full spectrum of human emotions in a 24 hour period: excitement, terror, relief, love, joy and vulnerability. We had a few hiccups after that required us to stay an extra few days in the hospital, but all in all, we were extremely lucky and blessed to have some of the world’s best medical care and fiercely devoted friends and family at our side. And at the end of it all, we had a beautiful, healthy and happy little girl that we’re totally in love with to bring home.
After the grandparents and friends and family left the hospital and the initial elation of being told we were finally going home started to sink in, we signed some papers and they walked us out to the car with their best wishes and congratulations. I vaguely remember the drive home, but will never forget the feeling of opening the door, walking in with the baby in her carrier, putting her down and then just looking at each other and saying,
“Now what do we do?”
I think it’s a pretty universal experience for first time parents -- the moment when you realize that babies don’t come with an instruction manual. Sure, friends and family are around to help, but there aren’t doctors and nurses on call, you can’t put her in the nursery to get a good night’s sleep and at the end of the day, you’re responsible for who this little person becomes. That’s a realization that rocked me, and that renews every day, but I’m continually amazed at how much instinct (both the baby’s and ours) helps smooth over any anxiety or second guessing.
It’s hard to believe that a month has passed since her birth. That first week or two is pretty jarring, but like with any new roommate, you eventually get to know each other’s habits, quirks and needs and try to settle into a routine as much as you can. I’m not entirely sure that she knows who we are to her quite yet, but I’m confident that she at least views us as benevolent giants that feed, bathe, clean and entertain her. And she repays us with cuddles, smiles and at least for the last week, five hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.
Everything at this point is new, and I must admit, a lot of fun -- whether it’s a first smile, a great tummy time, how much she loves bath time, or even her first blowout. She has her favorite place to nap (on her mom), her favorite way to be held (like a football), loves watching the Yankees with her dad and hates having her diaper changed. I think our shared “Grace” album already has a thousand photos and videos in it, and we’re having the time of our lives recording these milestones and sharing them with both willing and unwilling recipients as she takes over our social feeds (and lives). On a personal note, I also got to experience the immense pride of bringing her into Vivvi to meet some of her new teachers, and seeing her in a place, that I not only helped bring to life, with people who are fully dedicated to making sure that she thrives. And it’s been wonderful meeting the other parents as both CEO and as another dad enrolled at Vivvi (especially as we plot coordinated Halloween costumes that will embarrass them for years to come).
But what strikes me most is how much she is learning and changing every day. Of course, every piece of early childhood education research that’s ever been published pretty clearly states that she is going to learn more, faster between now and when she turns 4 than she ever will in her life. Until I witnessed it first hand, it was hard to really grasp the importance of building the strong foundations that will allow her to not only learn, but learn to love how to learn.
And that dovetails with two really important things that answer that question I asked earlier: What do we do now?
First, that it’s my (and my wife’s) job to give this little girl every opportunity to become her best self and to love her for it. Certainly, there are the foundational items of love and attention and respect that we seek to give her every day. But it also means setting her up for success. There was a time when I begrudgingly acknowledged the convenience and value of a nanny, at least for the first year of a child’s life. Having now seen our wonderful teachers in action at Vivvi, I also know that in my heart of hearts, it’d be crazy and short sighted to not give her access to the very best professionals who are going to also give her love and attention, not just someone who will also pick up food and do our laundry. If my wife and I can’t be with her every day, I want to make sure that she’s with the very best, and that’s why she’s going to Vivvi.
Second, it’s making sure that we don’t let our lives, marriage and dreams fade because we’re pretty obsessed with Grace. We’re six weeks into this, so I don’t think there are any long luxurious mom & dad vacations planned any time soon, but it does mean that we’ve enthusiastically welcomed babysitting from her grandparents and aunts and uncles so that we can take a walk or grab lunch. Perhaps most importantly, my wife graduated from nursing school in January after spending years preparing for and excelling in school. She’s at the beginning point of her professional dreams, and it’s part of my job and our commitment to not only have her be the role model for our daughter that our mothers were for us, but to have her be her best self. And throwing a child into the mix is too often a huge disruption to all parents, but especially to moms, 50% of whom leave the workforce entirely after they have their first child. So as we start having those discussions about going back to work, it’s a blessing to know that we have world class child care that’s built for our daily and often unpredictable needs -- that isn’t just a place to drop her off, but a place that is committed to her success as a whole person.
In a very concrete way, it’s a tremendous opportunity for focus -- indeed, this is why we started Vivvi and designed it for today’s families: so that they don’t have to make heartbreaking decisions about what’s best for them and their children based on either the outrageous costs of child care or the rigor of their professional careers. One month into this gig as dad, and as we officially open our doors at Vivvi, I couldn’t be prouder to be serving the families who trust us with what’s most important to them - their children; or the employers who are investing in their people and their families because they know that it’s not only the right thing to do, but the smartest thing they can do for their organizations. It’s a profound and important duty, and one that I and everyone at Vivvi strives to honor every single day both literally (we’re open year round) and figuratively.
I invite you to join me, Grace and all of our other employers and families at Vivvi to experience how you and your families can thrive when the answer to “what do we do now?” is: “Vivvi.” Join us at an upcoming Open House by clicking HERE.