Kindergarten Blues

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

About the writer

Crystal Henry, author of Naked Salsa, is a freelance writer glad to be back in her native Texas land. She is a University of Florida alumna who stays true to her Florida writing roots through her work with Our Town Magazine and her award-winning column, Naked Salsa. She is a boobs out breastfeeding advocate and semi-crunchy mom whose work has been featured on sites such as eHow, LIVESTRONG and ModernMom. Her world-domination-smart husband and two hilariously inappropriate little girls constantly provide fodder for her #preschoolproblems blog. But having two newborns of her own broke the baby fever that once burned deep within her. Instead she is renting out her oven to another woman's bun and documenting her surrogacy journey with humor and honesty through her blog, Her Eggs My Basket.

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sarah 3 months ago

Third child, the challenging child, goes to kindergarten in September. It’s June. I’ve been sobbing for weeks. And I still have one more at home.

Dawn Kitchen 12 months ago

Me!

Lena Goretsky Winters 12 months ago

My twins did :(

Alexis Saliveros 12 months ago

Psh! Tears of JOY! I love my twin girls but holy smokes… that 3.5 hour break when they went to half day kindergarten was AMAZING! However, I did find myself volunteering in their class at least 3 days a week… but I think that was mute out of sympathy for the teacher! Twenty 5 and 6 year olds for 3.5 hours! You really gain some appreciation for those who teach!

Barbara Mastroddi-Lackey 12 months ago

Nope, not a crier either. Neither was my daughter. I’ll probably be saving the water works for when she goes off to college in another eight years. THAT, to me, is a cry-worthy occasion.

Sonya McKinney 12 months ago

I won’t even try to understand your fears, but I hope it all goes well at school & he remains healthy!

Sonya McKinney 12 months ago

I bawled like a baby, stayed home all day on the couch. My son cried all day too. And I cry every year, he’s now in the 6th grade. Now he rolls his eyes at me, lol.

Catherine Lavallee 12 months ago

NOPE! Not a drop. I was happy that my kids started school.

Ashley Drown 12 months ago

I’m so scared that something is going to happen to him! Or he is gonna get lost or something! At the same time i am excited since he is kind of a little terrorist, i don’t know how to feel but i know i am gonna cry!

Joeyandkatie Graham 12 months ago

I held my tears back until the third day. The first two days, I walked him to class. On the third day, we got to the door of the school and my son put up his hand and said, “I’ve got it from here, Mom. I’ll go the rest of the way.” I lost it when I got to work that day.

Jamie Pearson 12 months ago

I’ve already been crying and she doesn’t start till Thursday. Third child, you think I’d be used to it.

Kristine Gould Wingate 12 months ago

I was the only parent doing cartwheels! College is another story…. I’ll be crying my eyes out.

Sue McLaughlin Lake 12 months ago

Only with the first one.

Amber Koernke 12 months ago

I cried when my oldest went to kindergarten, he cried too. But the second day he was like go away mom I’ve got this. My youngest I didn’t cry, she instantly said mom bye!

Stacy Spilkevitz O’Connor 12 months ago

I have 2 days until this! Is this what’s going to happen?! I’m excited and so scared for him all at once. I wish they came with handbooks.

Lisa Weihman 12 months ago

OMG, like a freakin’ fountain. Both kids. Like someone had died. I was a mess.

I’m like Pavlov’s dog, though. Put me in the elementary school cafeteria or the Barnes and Noble children’s book section and I start weeping. I’m a cryer.

That said, one started middle school and the other started high school this year, and I was perfectly dry eyed. Totally fine. I guess it gets less dramatic as they get older.

Lori Brown Grimaldi 12 months ago

I cried on my first day and my 2 kids first days. They didn’t I guess it’s because they both had 3 years of pre-school, I never did

Denise Romeo 12 months ago

I did and I’m the mom lol

Marcela Marchesini Kapfer 12 months ago

I teared up with both of mine for a second, then composed myself. It wasn’t anything dramatic.

Abandoning Pretense 12 months ago

Me!!!

Helen Russo 12 months ago

not really, no…but I was a little hurt my daughter didn’t! She was like, “see ya, Mommy! Go home now!”

Amor Delsol Laluz 12 months ago

I’m pretty sure my eyes are going to get suspiciously misty tomorrow.

April Sumner 12 months ago

I did not cry. I was happy to drop mine off. I am proud of them growing up and learning I don’t get the tons of tears things

Amy Paschal Keister 12 months ago

I cried like a baby.

Beverley Bee 12 months ago

I have 4 daughters and I was so freaked out when my youngest started Kindergarten. She had never really been away from me. She freaked and ran out of the classroom, totally freaked out, screaming. The principal had to come over to assist. She had to pull her away from me and then told me to go and I walked away crying. Haha. That had never happened with any of my other kids…but she’s my last baby.

Heather Phillips Beauchamp 12 months ago

Not kindergarten but first grade

Cherie 1 year ago

My oldest starts kindergarden next Monday. Nevermind she’s gone to school for 2 years now, this is her first year going to school full-time! I’m sad thinking about how much less time we’ll have together. I know she’ll love it, but I definitely think I’ll be crying after dropping her off. Then my youngest starts preschool next Tuesday! It’ll be so lonely in the house without anyone yelling at me :(

Haiku Durden 12 months ago

I cried after getting het off the bus on the first day. The drop in tension that my baby was back with me was too much to bear, I guess. She thought it was hilarious.

Michelle Day 12 months ago

My baby starts nursery in a year and I am already in tears when I think of him starting school, I know I know I’m crazy but honestly it nearly rips my heart out of my chest, god only knows how I will be when he does actually start school…….

Yvonne West 12 months ago

Is wrong that I cry the last day of school? LOL

Sarah Cotter 12 months ago

My son is starting on Thursday and the last week I have been tearing up and had one cry fit a couple days ago. For three years its been me and my son 24/7. He’s my little side kick

Wendy Richards 12 months ago

I teared up a little last year, as both my youngest two started half days at the same time. This year, my daughter starts Kindergarten and I seriously cannot wait. She loves the teacher already and has kids in her class from last year. Also, your special time with your kids is NEVER over until you are in the ground!

Linda Wallowitch 12 months ago

I did..tears of joy..lol

Stephanie Hinkle Chaillou 12 months ago

I cried when our oldest started kindergarten…to this day I blame it on the fact I was pregnant with the 3rd at the time. I cried when the second one started, mostly because I put him on the bus and that seemed like such a huge step. (We lived in walking distance when the oldest started school.) Now, our youngest is three and I hold no delusions about his first day, I’m going to be a mess plain and simple.

Robbi Garman 12 months ago

I never cried….I was as excited as my daughter when we started homeschooling for kindergarten. This year my second daughter will start kindergarten at home along with her sister starting 2nd grade. I won’t miss a moment and they will get their 3 day weekends with their daddy EVERY weekend which is Sunday – Tuesday. It works well for my family. =)

Brandi Williams 12 months ago

Heck I cried 1st day of Preschool….. I’m gonna be a blubbery mess next year when he starts Kindergarten!

Crystal Ford 12 months ago

No crying here, more the onset of anxiety.

Karyn M. Osuna-Poindexter 12 months ago

I didn’t cry, neither did my son. But, like someone else said, I’m certain I’ll cry at graduation. FREEDOM is close! lol!

Lex Taman 12 months ago

My daughter started half day last year. I cried. This year full day and French Immersion, I’ll be crying again!

Olga Biondi 12 months ago

I remember those days well – and now my two children are grown adults and dealing with “grown up things”

Ariane Herrholz Grabill 12 months ago

My youngest starts kindergarten tomorrow. He is my sweetest boy and cancer survivor at the age of 4. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Janeen Warren 12 months ago

My oldest starts kindergarten tomorrow and im thinking the same thing, I did not spend enough time with her. Im struggling more than she is.

Bethany Hessenthaler Weiss 12 months ago

I cried on the 2nd day.

Christie Scianni 12 months ago

Cried when my baby started kindergarten last tuesday and when my first started preschool in 2010. Bittersweet for sure. You blink and they grow up.

MyLove M. Barnett 12 months ago

My youngest started Kindergarten this year. I was a blubbery mess trying to hold it together so that HE wouldn’t cry. His chin quivered just a tiny bit, and then he looked around at all the kids and brightly colored STUFF there…and then he squeezed my neck and took off in a blurry streak of speed that only little kids can have. It’s both easier AND harder when they let go.

Angela Germain 12 months ago

Yup! I was a disaster.

Jamie Benjamin O’Hare 12 months ago

Third child went this year, holding on to her 5th grade brother’s hand. No tears because I knew she’d be fine.

Virginia IceKream Crouch 12 months ago

I cried on my sons first grade teacher during an orientation. It just hit me all of a sudden.

Laura Gabauer 12 months ago

Don’t blink just sent my only off to college and boy do I miss her and her clutter.

Lisa Pricopio 12 months ago

Sent oldest this year, my three year old was such a handful I couldn’t focus enough to cry:)

Cindy Guentert-Baldo 12 months ago

I didn’t cry with either of my kids on the first day of kindergarten. But I have the feeling I WILL cry this year when my oldest graduates to middle school!

Donna Giersdorf-Thompson 12 months ago

Sending my youngest to kindergarten this year. Excited, sad, proud, relieved and mystified – how did the time slip by so fast?

Tiffany Bumbaugh 12 months ago

I did..two years ago. And cried again last week on the first day of second grade.

Laura Marks 12 months ago

With all 5 of them!

Michelle Capobianco 12 months ago

I’m two years out, I work in education, and I already know I’m going to be a sobbing mess!