My heart goes out to all of the moms out there getting ready for the first day of kindergarten.
Last weekend, I put my daughter on a big yellow bus and tried to show her a strong and happy Mom as she stuck her head out the window and gave me a double thumbs-up. I didn’t want to show her my anxiety because I was so proud of her decision to face her fears and ride the bus even though she was a little uncertain about it. She wasn’t starting kindergarten, but was taking a 2+ hour drive south to camp. When they arrived, the counselor called me as requested to tell me “don’t worry, everything is fine” and for half a second I felt a little embarrassed. I’m THAT mom, the neurotic one, the Nervous Nellie, the one who has to confirm that they made it safely. But hey, I’m making progress because that feeling lasted about .5 seconds before I thought “Who cares if I’m a nervous mom? She’s safe and I’m good!”
This really got me thinking about all of the moms out there putting their little ones on that big yellow bus for the VERY first time, the first day of kindergarten.
I know that even though you have been preparing for it since January of the year before- with the forms, the screenings, the open houses and orientations, the clothes and supplies shopping, somehow it still sneaks up on you. Before you know it you are taking their picture on the front porch with the little chalkboard that shows their name and year, then a bit later sitting in your car sobbing inexplicably while your little one makes their way to school with their lunch and the impossibly huge backpack that swallows their body.
Kindergarten is a BIG change.
For the last 5 years, they’ve been with you most of the time. Even if they were in preschool, they were in that protective bubble where you knew they were safe, entertained, learning and having fun. You knew you could call to check in or stop in at any time. You never worried about childcare on a snow day because except in a blizzard, preschool is open! Now that they are in kindergarten, it’s a no news is good news policy, and of course it feels sad and scary and confusing. Your job is to keep your kids safe, nurtured, healthy and fed and now, at least until the school day ends, it is out of your hands.
I wonder if this feeling might be a fraction of what it feels like to drop your kids off at college. If so, OUCH. I’m not ready to even think about that yet, although I know it will be here like, tomorrow.
You’ll get through this, Mama.
First, cut yourself some slack. You are human and these feelings are normal and natural. The anxiety, uncertainty and surprising amount of sadness you feel are the result of your love. Love is vulnerability; you feel this way because you have a lot to lose. So take a nice slow breath and say to yourself “this is what vulnerability feels like. I feel it because I love my children so much”. Breathe into it and let it wash over you. Give yourself a little mental (or actual) hug and say “you’ve got this!” Remember that the BEST thing you can do for your kids is send them out to experience the world and provide them with a safe place to come home to.
Five self-care ideas for the first day of school:
- Take a little extra time for yourself that morning. If you work outside of the home, can you go in just a little later? Get a cup of your favorite coffee and just take a few minutes to process your feelings before you go on to the next thing. Ease into the day.
- Call a friend who has been there and commiserate.
- Write a gratitude list of all of the people and things that helped your child be ready for this big day.
- Do something creative. Journal, draw, knit, write a poem, anything that helps you relax and express yourself.
- Be nice to yourself. Remind yourself that it is perfectly normal and natural to feel this way, and you are doing great!
You’ve got this.