First-Day-of-School Blues – for the Parents
First Days of a new school year are filled with mixed emotions; excitement, fear, and wishing summer could last just a few more days.
Many schools are beginning this week, bringing a flurry of Facebook posts about the emotional turmoil mothers experience as they send their little ones off to kindergarten for the first time. In fact, several of my family members and friends are going through the exciting but emotional first day of school event this week. Thinking of them, I searched my old files and found these words I wrote to comfort myself when my oldest daughter was beginning kindergarten. I’ve now successfully gone through many transitions with my daughters, and I’d like to promise you that it gets easier…but I don’t like to lie.
She’s going to kindergarten, I try to logic with myself, it isn’t as if she’s leaving home to go to college. She will be two miles from home and will be back by three in the afternoon. So why does this feel so monumental, like such a huge, emotional milestone? Why do I feel myself hiding melancholy tears as we lay out her cute little plaid uniform and pack the new backpack with all her supplies?
Alexandra is ready, willing and anxious to go to school. Because of a late birthday she waited a year and will be six when she starts kindergarten. During this “growth” year, I’ve watched her blossom with confidence, maturity and new skills. She is definitely ready for this next stage of life! It seems that I’m the one that needs the coddling through this transition, I’m just not ready to let her go!
I’ve had the opportunity to stay home with her, a rare privilege for a single mother and one that I have loved and cherished. Although she’s gone to a pre-school at our church a few days a week, most of her time has been spent with me and her sister. Some days at home with two young children have seemed endless, especially since I have no spouse coming home in the evening, but most have been priceless! I’ve reveled in watching Alexandra move through each developmental stage, marveled at her capacity to absorb knowledge, and been reawakened to the wonders of the world through her eyes.
We’ve stayed busy going to museums, the zoo, libraries, parks and Chuck E. Cheese. We’ve gone to the requisite play groups, ballet classes and swimming lessons. However, my most memorable times with her have been the “stay in pajamas” days that have stretched before us like a welcome red carpet. I savored those long, lazy days that allowed for morning snuggles followed by bouts of reading, painting, baking cookies and accomplishing absolutely nothing. Nothing tangible to show for our time, yet in many ways, the most valuable. Those laid-back days will still happen but much less frequently. I’ll miss that time, but I’m so grateful to have had it.
The last six years have been an incredible journey where I’ve posed as the guide but in reality have often been the one learning the most. As Alexandra enters school I’ll be sharing my role with other adults, her teachers. I pray and hope they will be caring and capable people that will positively impact her life. She is about to embark on a thrilling adventure filled with new friends, teachers, activities and learning. Despite my sentimental feelings, I know she is going to love it!
When Alexandra was born, a friend sent me a framed saying with these words, “There are only two things you can give your children, one is roots, the other is wings.” I love providing the roots, but the wings part is a little tougher. I will be brave in her presence, but I expect a few private tears (mine) on the first day of school. Next year, my youngest will begin kindergarten. Maybe by that time I will have mastered the art of letting go??