Moms are ridiculous on the first day of school.
We obsess over getting pictures of our kids next to a chalkboard sign stating their grade and what they want to be when they grow up (something they will laugh at us for one day, I’m sure, even though we tell ourselves we are creating memories), find them the perfect first-day-of-school outfit, snap a shot of them in front of the house, their school, with their teacher, with us…, coax them into walking into their new classroom with all the excitement and smiles we can muster, and then shed a million tears on the drive home.
How often do you see dads doing any of those things?
Exactly. Moms be crazy.
Obviously, it comes from a good place. Most of us just want to ease our children’s fears by making the first day of school something magical instead of something frightening. We hope that special breakfasts, new clothes and plenty of hype will do just that (the 900 pictures we take, however, are just for us).
But the good intentions are also inevitably balanced with our own secret fears; fears that we would never share with our kids.
Me? I fear that she won’t stick up for herself when another child steals her toy or bullies her, I fear that she will miss me, I fear that she will cry and I won’t be there to comfort her, I fear that she will be too afraid to tell the teacher when she needs to go to the bathroom, I fear that the teacher won’t be extra loving toward my extra special child, I fear that school will leave a bitter taste in her mouth.
I know what school was like for myself: each first day of the new year soured with a nervous stomach, several years spent being the victim of the “mean girls,” and constantly aware of how “uncool” I was.
I do not want those experiences to be my child’s. And so each year when school starts, I worry. And I cry. I cry about my fears, and I cry because she is getting bigger by the day, and I cry because another year of innocence is lost.
But I also cry from pride. My child is starting to make a way for herself in this world, and as a parent, I am so proud of each moment she stands on her own two feet without me there.
There is also some joy in knowing that each year she gets a little braver and a little bolder. This morning on her first day of school, I was able to remind Mia that she was older than some of the kids who would be starting their first year of preschool (this will be her second), and that she could help them if they were sad by reminding them that mom and dad would be back soon. She seemed proud to take on that role, and even pointed out some kids who would probably need her help (those kids seemed perfectly fine, but I let her have her moment by nodding and saying, “Yes, they might need you!”).
So, here’s to another year riddled with tears and tons of crazy mom moments. I’ve snapped all my pictures for the day and given her a special surprise when she got home, so now I can relax until next year. Or next week. Or tomorrow.
To my adventurous little girl,
Don’t ever forget how much I love you and how often I pray for you. You are brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, beautiful enough and bold enough to accomplish whatever you want. Let school help lead you there, and don’t ever doubt your talents and abilities or, most importantly, your self-worth. Love, mommy