It seems to me that all moms have a very emotional response before their babies start Kindergarten. I am witnessing it first hand, all around me. It’s the start of a new chapter. They will be with all those big kids in the elementary school!
These little beings, who have been so dependent on us for the last 5+ years will be gone longer and longer hours of the day, starting with Kindergarten – and that’s only the beginning. It will progress from there and BOOM! one day they are adults and ready to move on with their lives, far, far away from their mothers. Starting school is such a big step in their development, moms can’t help but be emotional about it.
But I think there’s even more to it than that. It’s an important chapter in the cycle of motherhood. I notice many women asking themselves what am I going to do now?
Being a mother is a constant transition. It takes the type of flexibility reserved for gymnasts. When our babies are born, we completely lose ourselves in taking care of them. The baby powder smell wears off, the exhaustion creeps in, and we start to wonder what happened to me?? Who am I now? as we practically claw our way back to some former shell of ourselves. I often found myself feeling homesick for my freedom. Which in turn made me feel suuuper guilty because Mother’s Guilt is a very real thing; a condition where you feel guilty over everything you think and feel, simply because you’re a mom.
Then one day, you start to accept that this is your new reality. And there are some really amazing moments where you feel totally comfortable in your new role. You stop missing your old self and you have an appreciation for who you’ve become.
As our babies grow into toddlers, and quickly transition to kids, you start to miss little freedoms again – drinks with your friends, dates with your husband… it all gets a little easier to accomplish when our kids get easier to care for. We strive for balance, which takes work, but feels better than the all or nothing approach.
So just as we are feeling on top of our game, finding a happy medium between mom and actual human being, our babes have to leave us.
Off to Kindergarten for five hours a day.
It’s kind of rude actually.
But I digress.
While I do share this list of transitional experiences with most moms, I have a very different emotional response towards my son going to Kindergarten. It goes something like this:
HAPPY. DANCE. I WILL BE ALONE FOR 5 HOURS A DAY. WHAT WILL I DO WITH MY TIME?? BAHAHA. OH I WILL FIND THINGS, DON’T YOU WORRY. I CAN’T WAIT!! I’M SO EXCITED. YES, FOR STEVIE OF COURSE. BUT ALSO YAAAY MEEEE.
For most of you who have followed the blog for awhile, this probably comes as no surprise. My “recharge time” just increased twofold. And I think it will help so much with my patience and energy levels when Stevie and I are together, it will be a game changer. At least I hope so.
But with every shiny rainbow, there have to be dark clouds too, right? And I do have my emotional moments. The friggin clouds fogging up my brain. Not because he will be leaving me, but once again, I’m getting slapped in the face with the thoughts of he’s not where we hoped he’d be.
You would think I have accepted this by now.
But with such a big developmental milestone like Kindergarten just around the corner, it breaks my heart a little bit that he hasn’t learned his ABC’s or numbers. That he can’t draw a straight line, or color for more than a couple seconds. That he can barely feed himself. That he can’t open anything from a ziplock to screw tops. That he doesn’t play pretend or care about anything other than Hot Wheels. He doesn’t have a drive to try and no excitement to learn. There’s so much he doesn’t understand. Oh, and the drool. Yikes. These are things I’ve learned that most other parents don’t give a second thought to. It comes naturally to other kids. But I have to teach him every step of the way.
That’s who Stevie is.
And of course he has also accomplished so much, and he has so much love to give. Hell, even just the fact that he’s here at all brings you to your knees. But I know for me, it’s just a matter of going through another round of grievance and acceptance. It has come in waves his whole little life. I suppose I’m a little bit in the anger stage right now, feeling my frustrations rise as I try to dress him and he still falls on the floor unable to cooperate for whatever reason. Or when he has trouble doing the simplest tasks. Or when he thinks screaming like a banshee is a valid form of communication. Or when his repetitive conversations don’t make any sense. Or when he still effing spits in my face when he’s frustrated. It’s a miracle I haven’t slapped him silly for that one.
I sit back watching all of this, wondering if it will ever end.
You know when he was very little, part of me thought that after 6 months of therapy, he’d be all caught up and we could move on with our lives. But here we are, still fighting the good fight every single day. It’s still a test of our patience as we wait for him to learn in his own time. We know he will, he has proven that already, time and time again. It’s just that WE are ready for that time to be now.
In the bigger picture I know we’ll figure it out as we go. Just like any other parent. We are all the same in that way; no one can ever never know how their kids will turn out, what struggles they will have to endure, and what they will decide to do with their lives. I’m not alone in those worries. It’s just been a long road of unpredictability and an ache for some normalcy – whatever that is.
So. For today, I’m simply going to allow myself to grieve. Maybe even feel a little sorry for myself and cry into a cheeseburger. Then when I’m done, I’ll put on my big girl panties and get my head back in the game. Be therapist and mom. Feel pride for all that he’s accomplished. Not let him (or myself) give up.
Then, come Fall, we’ll ship him off to Kindergarten and I’m sure at some point I’ll ask myself what am I going to do now??
But not until after I basically just sit and relish in the silence for a solid week.
Arrivederci, my love!