Dear new preschool mom,
I saw you wiping away tears as you dropped your child off at school this morning. Seeing you still struggling to leave your little one, I was immediately transported back to the first time I sent my oldest child, then 2 and a half, into a classroom without me. I walked out the door alone, feeling like I was leaving behind an arm or perhaps something more vital, like half of my heart.
It's not that I didn't trust her teachers to take good care of her. I had done my research about schools, as I'm sure you did, and I knew that the preschool was staffed with experienced, caring, enthusiastic people who obviously had much more patience than me (all those toddlers!). But still, it was the first time I had left her in an unfamiliar building with anyone who wasn't family, and as normal and developmentally healthy as I knew taking that step was for both of us, it stung.
Two-and-a-half hours never felt longer, and I found myself counting down the minutes until I could pick her up. I'd always arrive early, hoping to get a peek into the classroom's one-way glass door to see how she was spending her time away from me, whether she'd met any new special friends, and whether she looked happy. Of course, I had nothing to worry about. She loved school from the start and blossomed in the new environment. Four years later, as a first grader, she still loves school. I have to warn you: it's been the fastest four years in the history of the world . . . for me, at least.
This year, I sent my youngest son off to preschool for the first time, and I know it will be hard to imagine that leaving any future children could be easier than this experience has been, but I promise you, it totally will be.
If your experience is anything like mine, your older children will have paved the way for both you and your younger offspring to understand how awesome school can be. Your littlest ones will want to be students just like their older sisters or brothers. They might not even look back after you hug them goodbye the first day. And you might not feel the need to count the minutes until pickup.
With multiple children, your life will probably be busier, and trusting that your preschooler is safe and happy, you'll check him off your mental to-do list for the few hours he's at school. It won't mean that you love him any less or feel any less attached to him; you'll just be a pro at this preschool thing.
So go ahead and cry. This is your time to feel all those emotions. Embrace them now, but know that you are doing the right thing — the best thing for you both — by starting your child's education early. Take the time to do something nice for yourself. Wait in line at that fancy coffee shop. Get your nails done. Read that book that's collecting dust on your nightstand. Or just catch up on your favorite Bravo shows. Then, when it's time, don't be embarrassed to be the first mom waiting at pickup. Goodbyes are hard, but reunions are so sweet.
An experienced preschool mom