Fellow mama with school-aged kids,
You're about to do something you never thought would creep up on you so fast—you're about to let your child walk into an elementary school without you. And if you're anything like me, you're likely feeling many intense emotions swirling within you.
Some days, you may wake up eager for your baby to finally let go of your hand and to soar without you. But most days, you're probably filled with worry and even a little sadness. I was the same way.
Before my firstborn strolled off to kindergarten, I felt uneasy about the whole gig.
I didn't like the fact that he'd be in someone else's care all day long. I worried he wouldn't make friends. I feared that the pressure of school would be too much stress on his tiny mind. I despised the fact that he wouldn't get proper rest time in school. I wanted to be sure he'd get enough play time. And believe it or not, I even worried about what he ate. Anxiety filled me months before he stepped foot inside that kindergarten classroom. It was not pretty.
And even at his teacher's open house, my shoulders grew tense. My son smiled and shook the hand of his sweet, new teacher. Her classroom shined with cheer, but darkness sat in my heart. I didn't want him to grow up—something I knew was inevitable but wasn't mentally prepared for. I still pictured him lying on my naked chest after birth, his first steps, and sputtering out those first words…especially "Ma-ma."
Those first few months of school tortured me—not because my son was having a rough time—simply because I was torturing myself. As a teacher, I didn't trust his school or even his teachers. When my son came home from school, instead of providing him with a welcoming, relaxed environment, I grilled him with questions. "What'd you learn? Who'd you play with? What did you do all day?" He became cranky—and I can't blame him. I was on top of him.
And I think my anxiety was rubbing off making him a little worried about school, too. I could tell that my son was getting stressed out and I immediately felt that it was kindergarten's fault. The pressure is too much for these little kids, I thought.
But finally, I woke up…and I realized—the problem was me. I realized that I had to start trusting my son's school, his teacher, and even him. Thankfully, after months had already drifted by, I let go of my son and he flew on his own.
It was as if I was a balloon and I finally exhaled all of the stress out of myself. I relaxed. And most importantly, I trusted everyone.
Quickly after I owned the fact that kindergarten was miserable because of me, things changed for the better. The darkness in my heart turned light. My son walked through our door smiling after school and his scowl evaporated. I began volunteering in his classroom and discovered that not only was his teacher an excellent educator but a nurturing soul as well.
Mamas, I know it's hard. It won't be easy. Tears will likely roll down your cheeks on that first day of school. Please just know that it gets easier—but only if you let it.
You can trust the teachers to do their job. You can trust that the wonderful child you are raising will make the right choices. And you can trust the school for protecting your child and his or her well-being. All of those beautiful hopes that you have for your kindergartner—like learning to read and making new friends—they'll only happen if you let them.
Try to focus on all of the exciting things that your child, the child you are raising, will learn to do on their own. Because of you, they will jump over any hurdle that life places in his or her way. You taught them how to leap, after all.
A mother who had to let her firstborn go to kindergarten, too