I’m proud to be her Mom

I wake her up by crawling into bed next to her, and we cuddle for a few minutes. She yawns and stretches; I sing her the song I sang to her when she was a small baby. Suddenly her eyes pop open with excitement “Is this the day I get to go to school mom?”

My heart skips a beat, but I affirm that yes this is her big day and then listen while she chatters about her hopes for school. We eat some fruit together and wonder what she will eat for breakfast at school. She puts on the outfit that she picked the night before and then we brush her teeth. We take a picture, and then her and Haley walk down the street to where the bus stop is. I stay home with the other kids who are still sleeping, not able to trust my emotions watching my baby get on the bus to go where I have never gone.

It’s my first day of kindergarten, 22 years too late.

Haley comes home to find me curled up on the floor crying and fighting nausea. And after reassuring me that Ms Action was happy and excited about getting on the bus she has to leave for school herself, and I am left to watch the clock until it is time to meet my baby at the bus stop.

******************************

I knew I had anxiety about school. After years of believing that only parents who didn’t love their kids put them into school, that putting your child in school was basically abandoning them and abdicating parental responsibility, I had nightmares leading up to her first day. Dreams where I didn’t know where my baby was, dreams where the bus stopped but she wasn’t on it, dreams where her teacher called to tell me Ms Action was crying. The night before her first day was almost sleepless, and I found myself starting a prayer for the first time in months. “God, if you are there… and if you are that mean cruel perfectionist god I don’t mean you… but if there is a loving accepting god who cares, please let my baby have a good first day of kindergarten…” And that was when I trailed off, thinking about how kids starve every day, how there are kids that go missing and all the desperate prayers their mothers must pray for their return, kids that are abused and no one ever knows about it, and I knew that I was alone, and if there is a god he isn’t going to care whether or not my baby feels good at school.

 

Strangely, it gave me some peace to once again come to that realization. That it doesn’t matter whether or not I am good enough for god, or if I explained enough about god to give my daughter belief in him too. We only have our family and she knows I am here for her, and that I will be there at the bus stop without fail, excited to see her at the end of her school day. I know that she will be in the bright roomy classroom that we’ve visited several times, coloring and learning letters and numbers, probably using many of the materials that our family purchased for her class list of art and school supplies. I know that she has an experienced enthusiastic teacher, who has met with us more than once, has no problem with parents dropping in from time to time, is available through email and sends home a student note each and every week. I know that she is surrounded by a strong loving community, and I can reassure her of that unequivocally.

That first day went faster than I thought it would, before I knew it we were down at the bus stop, baby in the stroller, anxiously watching for the bus. She practically jumped off the bus into my arms, grinning ear to ear. She was wearing her spare shirt from her backpack, and explained that she had changed it after spilling a little milk on her shirt at breakfast. She sat down on the sidewalk to unzip her bag and show me the Ziploc bag with some small trinkets from her teacher. We walked home, where she immediately stripped out of her school clothes and put on a tank top and shorts and demanded a snack. She took the plate of crackers and fruit and went outside barefoot, where she sat in my lap and snuggled while eating her snack. And then she was off, just as usual, to run around in the grass, ride her bike, play in the dirt, and keep working on the pretend patio she and her little neighbor friend have been building in the backyard with some old bricks they scrounged up.

 

She is still the same energetic thoughtful kid. I am so proud to be her mom. Each day she comes home with new stories and experiences to tell me, and today was the first morning she yawned and told me that she wished she could stay home today, and started crying when she put on her pants and decided that they were “frustrating her underpants,” a change of clothing and a few extra hugs later she climbed onto the bus and went off to school. She is still the same sensitive somewhat picky kid. I am so proud to be her mom.

I’m sure we have surprises and challenges ahead this school year, and I still have nerves and fears and worries about it all. But as I look ahead at the school year, I no longer have this black hole of purported terrors unknown. I am beginning to see days where school will be exciting and days where school will be boring. I see PTO meetings and ice cream socials. I see breaks for holidays and field trips. I see my daughter and I learning more and more to be a team, as she tries new things independent of her parents, and I am there for her every day to snuggle her, read to her, make her snacks and listen to her experiences, fears and dreams as this idea of school becomes less and less foreign.

 

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    Yay! So glad she is having a good time. I went through some of this when I put Sally in daycare, but the little daycare center she attends is nothing like the big echoey elementary school she’ll go to in a few years, so I’m sure I’ll have many of the same feelings when I get to where you are as well. Enjoy the time! You can do this!

    • Melissa

      Thanks Libby! She is doing so well so far! And I am doing pretty good too. :)

  • http://nagamakironin.blogspot.com/ Michael Mock

    Awesome.

    You know, as much as I firmly believe that the parents’ job is to help their kids grow up, it’s also true that our kids force us parents to grow up, too.

    • Melissa

      Ah yes, the growing never stops.

  • Melanie

    As the mother of my first baby, I’ve been struggling with the school issue, too. Unnecessarily early, perhaps, but it’s where my mind wants to dwell. I was raised by a not-especially-religious single mother, and attended public school straight through. But I’ve wondered, do I want my daughter to have the same sort of experience as me? I have a Master’s Degree and have studied education, among other things- could I do better for her? Could I help her better develop her faith at home? Would public school socialization destroy the foundation of the family my husband and I wish to build? It’s such a loaded issue.

    Over time I’ve realized that I can be at peace with whichever decision ends up being made. My children are in God’s hands, and I don’t say that in a way that exempts me from responsibility for them. I’ve seen homeschooling, and public schooling, done spectacularly and poorly. When pregnant, and with no experience with children, I made a point of approaching a couple from my church and pretty much begging them to spend an afternoon speaking with me and my husband. I knew them only in passing, but I always noticed their children. They always had a calm temperament, a pleasant demeanor, displayed a number of talents, and ranged in age from late elementary school through late high school (which means their parenting was intentional, and their behavior wasn’t coincidence). So I wanted to know how they had done with homeschooling. And the answer was, they weren’t. The parents had deliberately socialized them to function in society as responsible and polite individuals, not as children, and worked hard at maintaining consistency at home (quite a bit of work, I’m sure- it’s hard even with an infant). So I know that if I’m doing my job, I may be able to admire the behavior of my own children just as much, no matter how they’re schooled. That was such a relief to me. Even if my children attend public school, I haven’t handed them over to “the system,” they are still being raised by their parents.

    • Melissa

      Definetly still being raised by their parents, perhaps even needing them more than ever. I am completely fine with my children being children, and I feel like the more I treat them with respect, the more they are able to give respect to others.

  • Meyli

    Wow, your school gives breakfast?
    Anywho, I’m so glad school is going well for you :) Also so glad you’re back to your blog!
    I teach at a preschool, and sometimes it is just SO HARD for the little ones. They are not ready to separate from their parents, and are full of tears much of the day :( So glad Ms Action is having a wonderful time in kindergarten!

    • Melissa

      Yes, breakfast is free for all students at all the schools in our city. I am glad to be back to blogging too! Hopefully I can keep it up somewhat consistantly. :)

  • http://pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    This is such a sweet and beautiful post….I’m so glad that she’s off to a good start at school.
    Is it a bad sign that reading this makes me tear up even though school is several years away from us still?

    • Caravelle

      Reading it made me tear up and I don’t even have children…
      I’m glad things are going well and that you’re feeling better about school Melissa !

  • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.com/ Amethyst

    Beautiful post! I hope your daughter has a great school year.

  • http://articles.earthlingshandbook.org/ ‘Becca

    I’m so glad it’s going well! I think there’s really a lot of value in getting out into the world and mixing with other people, but I can understand why your childhood made it seem so strange and frightening. It’s great that you and Haley have been able to support Ms. Action getting off to a good start.

  • http://followingontoknow.blogspot.com Mrs. Searching

    I was very anxious the first week Andy was at school. But I had been fortunate to be partially broken in by having him attend the preschool across the street, where the director was a good friend and where I had cleaned the building weekly as a teenager. Still I struggled with whether I would be a worse mom for giving him to somebody else to teach, or for insisting I teach him myself knowing I couldn’t give him all he could use.
    I struggled with the prayer thing to. Every time I pray for my children’s safety I think about DH and all those times his prayers went nowhere. I have come to the conclusion that there is power in prayer, like we were always told – just not the way we viewed it. I think it’s more like a spiritual force that gathers strength from the passion and amount of the prayers offered on a person’s behalf. After all that’s the idea behind a seance, right? I think one of the reasons my family had been without serious tragedy so far is that my parents pray for each of us every night by name. They’d probably be upset if they knew I interpret it that way, but that’s what I believe. I still believe in God too. I just think it’s more of a “Heaven helps those who help themselves” thing.

  • ArachneS

    My daughter started school this year and also as a former home schooler who never went to public school… I had many of the same feelings! Not to mention I have many sisters and brothers who home school their kids and therefore believe home schooling is the best, so I have some added guilt and defensiveness tacked on from that angle.

    It takes a village to raise a child. I cannot be the sole contributor or it will be to both her and my own detriment. I can however, ensure that the other adults in her life are advocating for the education and well-being of the children around them.
    :)

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