Monday, September 11, 2017

The First Day of School, A Parody

Dear Mama in the Trenches,

(Especially all you new Kinder-moms!)

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, today is likely your little one’s first day of Kindergarten! Buckle up, Sister, you are in for a wild ride! Let me assure you, this week is going to be memorable and maybe not in exactly the way you were picturing.

After you have successfully battled the wills and finally gotten them to don that precious first day outfit choice, prepare thyself! They will inevitably spill blackberry jam upon it at breakfast and you will be forced to repeat the process at the 11th hour, coming up with a second “first day outfit” on the fly (from the hamper of course because, we are moms after all and don’t have time to actually do the laundry).

You swore you woke up plenty early enough, because, really, how long can it possibly take a five-year-old to get ready? SO. LONG. That’s how long. And if it’s a school morning, you might as well triple it. Oh Mama, do I know. You needed to leave for school like, yesterday, but there is enough excitement and nerves and ENERGY that you could probably drag a cat on a leash for a mile faster than it than it takes your precious cherub TO JUST PUT THEIR SHOES ON THEIR FEET. Please.  

The next hurdle you will encounter is that dang first day picture on the porch. Everyone else’s kid looks so put together in theirs so certainly this can’t be all that hard. Unfortunately, what those perfect little first day pictures you’ve been seeing all over social media neglected to capture was the audio. Which would have of course included a calm and loving mother rage-screaming in the background “JUST. SMILE!!!!” You had visions of an adorably-Pinterested chalkboard sign that read “First day of Kindergarten” in perfect calligraphy, along with the year and a list of all your kid’s favorite things right now. But you forgot to buy the chalkboard so you resorted to having your child make their own sign and they decided it was FINE to just use a pencil and no they did not want to add any color or stickers to jazz it up a bit, thank you very much. Perfectionist Mother, Kindergarten is torture for us.

Maybe your morning went nothing like this. Maybe yours was as smooth as butter, going off without a hitch. But then you arrived at school. Your sweet angel did his best to hold it together on the playground but then the floodgates released. He had to be peeled off of your body by the teacher when the final bell rang which basically secured your spot as the mom of “that kid” and now you’re sure no new mom friends are in your future.

Or maybe your typically-shy kid breezed into her classroom like it was nobody’s business and now you are all like “What the heck? You don’t even need me anymore?!” Cue the parental sobbing.

Now you find yourself at home, wringing your hands and making so many laps around your circular floor plan that the finish on the hardwoods is rubbing off in your wake. You have been waiting for this moment for 1827 days (approximately) and you are “so happy” and yet so very, very sad. This is what you wanted, right, free time and quiet? But now you don’t want it anymore. But you do. Oh wait no you don’t. Oh gosh why does being a girl have to be so harrrrrrrrrrd???????????

Let me assure you, each of these occurrences are NORMAL, whether you are the Nervous Nelly, the Emotional Emily, or the Jolly Jill. If you look around and are the only one sobbing on the school grounds, fret not. All the other parents are about to lose it as soon as they get back in the car. Or they already cried about it last night or last year or the year before. Feel what you are feeling and know that it’s OK. Don’t tell yourself that you’re “going to focus on the younger kids while the older is gone.” Because you aren’t. You are going to be a messy ball of random ever-changing emotions and that’s totally OK. Be gentle with yourself this week and month and year. You are adjusting. It gets easier and better, trust me.

And for those of you first-timers, a word of advice: September is not the month to make any major decisions. Nor is October. And you might want to skip November too. Actually, might as well toss out all of 2017 while you are at it. You are going to find yourself asking yourself a lot of questions you wouldn’t have previously considered in the days and weeks ahead. Some of these may or may not include:

Am I actually torturing my child by sending them to school? Is the school possibly torturing them?


Is my kid really old enough to put on their own shoes? (Maybe my expectations are too high?)

Should I maybe have homeschooled?

Why are they crying and whining so much?

Maybe age 5 isn’t actually “too old” for the stroller (it would make walking home sooooo much easier).


Suffice it to say, things are likely about to get ROUGH here for a bit. Consider yourself warned. If not today then tomorrow. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. You won’t be able to do anything right. They will hate what you packed them in their lunch. They will whine like it is the end of the world when you ask them to put their shoes on the shelf and not just next to it. You will wonder if they are actually dying as they creep their exhausted little bodies up the hill toward home.
They will have nothing left for you. No kind words. No precious conversations where they tell you all about their days like you envisioned. They will be DONE.


Don’t sign them up for soccer. Don’t register them for basketball. Don’t jump at that extracurricular activity that you know “they are just going to love.” They won’t and you won’t. They are finished and spent. They need a snack (NOW), some down time, dinner, snuggles, books and bed. That is all. No more.

My third grader is already begging to do everything. In the span of 5 minutes on Saturday night, she asked if I could please sign her up for dance class, rock climbing, Bible Study Fellowship and 4-H too. She whined about how I “never let her do anything.” We are three days into school, People! The answer is no. Ahem. Yes. You never get to do anything, my child. (Eye roll).

We have new routines to figure out and resting to do. We cannot possibly add anything else. Sorry all you Events-Kicking-Off-In-September. Sayonara! There is no space for you. For right now you can proudly wear the label of Mean Mom for turning down all their big dreams, but trust me, you will thank me later.

So, no matter how smooth (or not smooth) today goes, give yourself tons of grace and space to adjust to this new phase of life. And then, by all means, give the STARVING kid a snack!

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posted by kelsie