In less than three weeks, my oldest child starts kindergarten, and I, like most moms, am feeling pretty emotional about it . . . as in I'm feeling all of the emotions about it. Some days I can't wait to kick her "spirited" (that's how we label a back-talking, toy-throwing, baby diva these days, right?) tush out the door five days a week at 7:30 a.m. Others, I can't believe my little sidekick — and the only child in my house who consistently speaks in full, intelligible sentences — is leaving me.
And besides all of that, I just have a lot of questions. Seven-freaking-thirty? How can we possibly be ready by then? Will she have a lot of homework, and will I have to nag her to do it? Will she like her teacher and her classmates? Should I sign up for every committee on the PTA? What if she doesn't have enough time to eat lunch? How often do I have to log on to the school-parent interface? Will her brother miss her? Will I?
There can be a lot swirling around the head of a mom of a soon-to-be student, and these are just some of the totally normal emotions that can make you feel like you're going a little crazy long before that first day of school.
- Excitement. FREEDOM! No longer will I be a slave to the endless snack requests, the whining for YouTube, cartoons, cookies, and all the other things I should be limiting but have lost the will to fight about (like the 12 daily outfit changes and her obsession with listening to Ariana Grande and other overly sexualized singers). From 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. that kid is someone else's problem, and man, is she going to be knackered when she gets home! My life is mine again! (Remembering two-year-old son . . . my life is half mine again!)
- Sadness. Man, am I going to miss her. I'll miss how she makes me sing along to Ariana Grande in the car (OK, so I guess I secretly love it). And how she begs me for afternoon ice cream trips (I not-so-secretly love those, too). She's my bestie, my tiny comedian, my great-on-the-go girl, and she's leaving me. How is she old enough for full-time school? Does that mean I'm old, too? Yes, yes I think it really does.
- Fear. What if someone is mean to her on the bus, or she can't find her way to the bathroom, or she doesn't start reading as quickly as the other kids, or she hates school? I won't be there to fight her battles, lead her the right way, or give her the one-on-one attention I know she desperately craves. We are both screwed.
- Relief. I made it through the first hurdle of parenting, and for the next 13 years, I'm not solely responsible for teaching her every little thing she needs to know in life every single day. Her teachers will help; that is what they're there for. Thank goodness we live in a great school district.
- Anxiety. I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about being a parent of a grade schooler. Who are the best teachers, and is it good parenting or just obnoxious if I request one over another? Should I join a PTA committee or is that going to turn my life into a worse version of Bad Moms? How much lunch do I pack, and is her preschool lunch bag cool enough for grade school? Where is the bus stop, and what time does the bus come, and will she be able to get from the bus to her classroom, or should I follow the bus and meet her on the other side to walk her to class (but it comes sooooo early), and what if her brother is still sleeping, and would that embarrass her? This is how the inside of my head sounds these days (fun, right?).
- Joy. My daughter is as excited about school as I was when I was her age. She's a fast learner, makes friends easily, and actually patted my back the one time I cried about her going off to school. "It's okay, Mom," she said. "You'll miss me, and I'll definitely have more fun than you, but I'll come home after school." Yes, that made me feel all the emotions again, but mostly, I just felt joy because she's right. She probably will have more fun than me, and there's nothing that could make me happier.
Kindergarten, here we come.