Honest moms: Sending a child to school is a big step for the parent and kid
Robyn Rison and Jean Hardiman are both raising little ones -- Robyn, two boys ages 4 and 2, and Jean, two girls ages 5 and 3 (with a grown stepdaughter as well). They decided to save some of their daily parenting conversations for posterity.
JEAN: You ever have one of those moments when you think you can play it cool and you absolutely cannot? I found myself in one of those a couple weeks ago, on my 5-year-old's last day at the daycare where she's been since she was tiny. I felt strong, felt good. Walked in to hand a thank you card to her teacher for being so amazing and good to my girl, and I kind of started straight-up bawling. Gasping for breath. Snot pouring. You get the picture.
Having had my kids in daycare since they were just a couple months old, I didn't think starting kindergarten would be that big of a change. (Insert maniacal laughter here.) I've since discovered a strange irony for working mothers. The first day you drop your baby off at a daycare/babysitter's is traumatic. How in the world can you leave your treasure here with these people who aren't you? Well, guess what. The last day is just as traumatic. I suddenly came to realize how deep my trust was in the wonderful teachers and caregivers she's had. I realized how important her friends she's made there are to her, and how so much would change as preschool classmates head to different elementary schools this month. All these things that are familiar will change. And I apparently can't handle that kind of change without a good cry.
Don't get me wrong. I'm excited about her new school and her fantastic kindergarten teacher. I can't wait for her to learn all this new, exciting stuff, and I've met some nice parents of her classmates already. As far as I can tell, the start of kindergarten is going swimmingly, but that does not make the start of kindergarten less of an emotional roller coaster for this mom.
My daughter can be shy, so I find myself wondering if she'll tell someone when she has to use the bathroom, and how long it will take her to make new friends. I even worry that she's too tired without a nap, when the girl has never been a nap-lover. Even as an infant, I used to lay her down and sneak away from her crib "Mission Impossible" style to try to get a half hour to myself. Suddenly I'm worried that she wants to nap?
All these things I had stopped worrying about at her daycare, I'm flipping out about now. Am I crazy?
ROBYN: Yes, you're totally crazy, but that has nothing to do with your kids. OK, I'm teasing. You are no more crazy than any of the rest of us. My general nature would be to make relentless fun of you, but I can't because (since we're "honest moms") I cried last week when some of my oldest son's friends were at daycare for their last day. There. I said it. I cried and there were witnesses. It's out there now and I can't take it back. I guess when kindergarten time rolls around for us next year I'll just be a puddle. I mean he's been friends with those kids his entire life. I've watched those children grow up, like I've watched yours grow up. It's hard even though we've been dropping them off somewhere everyday since they were a couple of months old.
I suppose it's just another example of how they grow and that they don't really belong to us. We just get to guide them for a while. I'm guessing every step gets harder because the stakes get higher. Change is hard and so is letting go of some control. That's what all this is, isn't it? We drop them off and have to give up some control and trust the people we have chosen. Once they start going to school I guess we have to start the process of trusting our children - and trusting that we ourselves are doing OK at this parenting thing.
Go ahead and cry Jean. I'll join you.
JEAN: Must pull myself together. Must remember that my daughter most certainly can handle things on her own. Thanks for the good advice, trusty life coach. Now pass the Puffs.
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