Kindergarten Blues

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back-to-school Image via Shutterstock

A new school year is upon us, and this year I get to enjoy the smell of a box of brand new crayons. My first-born fruit of my loins will be starting kindergarten this year, and thus begins such a bittersweet time.

My little Sunshine is a spunky spirited child whose antics delight me and simultaneously drive me to drink. She was the baby I couldn’t leave at the gym daycare for more than 15 minutes because she screamed and clawed to try and reattach herself to my hip. I spent more time trying to squeeze into my yoga pants than I did actually swishing around on the elliptical machine. Every day I would get paged to come get my screaming child. Every day.

I cancelled my gym membership and vowed to hit the treadmill once again when she started preschool. Then I blinked, and it was time to enroll her. At this point she was 2, and I’d spent 821 days tending to her every need. This momma needed a break. I cleared my schedule the first day of school and planned to wait in the library. I knew they’d need me to come back to class and talk her down off her screaming ledge.

I hyped it up the whole way to school telling her how much fun she was going to have with all the new toys and friends. There was no way this little thing in the backseat even knew what I was babbling about, but I had to try. I needed a break.

As I posed her for a picture outside the church doors I got a little lump in my throat. Maybe she wouldn’t scream for so long. Maybe she’d just cry a little and calm down after 15 minutes. I just wanted her first day to go well. I didn’t have time to think about the fact that this was her first step away from me.

She didn’t cry the first day. In fact I had to chase her into the classroom to get a goodbye kiss. That feeling of dread, that mommy guilt that was tugging on my heart telling me not to leave her and that she needed me just faded away. I was happy that she was happy.

Two days without my 2-year-old turned into three days without my 3-year-old, and as another year passed I found myself surfing job boards longing for the day that I’d go back to work full-time in a real big person office with big people chairs and quiet lunches. The terrible twos were nothing compared to the tyrannical threes, and I found myself just surviving motherhood one day at a time.

There were so many days that I looked around my filthy house and wished I had 5 minutes of peace. The sass that came out of my 3-year-old’s mouth was atrocious and I had to remind myself that screaming at her would only teach her to scream. Instead I’d scream in my closet with the door shut and long for a shower without an audience.

Then the time came I realized my own mother was a dirty liar. She said 2 and 3 were really hard, but when they turn 4 they’re angels. That advice stunk worse than my 1-year-old’s diapers. Turns out 4 wasn’t really much better than 3. It was battle after battle, day in and day out. She didn’t want to wear anything purple, and only wanted to wear things with cats. She wasn’t wearing those shoes because the buckle was too tight. Then it was too loose. Then it was too tight.

Every. Single. Day.

I spent more hours than I’d like to admit letting her watch marathons of Ruby Gloom on Netflix while I poured over job boards looking for freelance work. I yearned to be back in the land of rational people who were okay with anything other than chicken nuggets and boogers at lunch and who didn’t wear jam as an accessory.

I scoffed at my friends who said they weren’t ready to send their kids to all-day kindergarten. I boasted that my kid was going to love it since she loves preschool so much. I tried to hide the fact that I was the one looking forward to a full day of productivity.

Then I blinked again. And as I registered my spunky sassy little girl for kindergarten I got another lump in my throat. What if she doesn’t cry? What if I can’t even catch her to give her a goodbye kiss? This magnificent and wonderful little creature that I created and spent 1,898 days with is taking another step away from me. Our special time together is over. And now I can’t help but long for those days of jam smeared kisses. I regret the Netflix marathons and I know that I must savor these last few weeks that I have her all to myself.

It’s heartbreaking, and wonderful and terrifying all at once. And I know that all I can do when I drop her off and the tears well up in my eyes is just try not to blink.

Related post: 6 Things I Learned as a Kindergarten Room Mom

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