Tomorrow morning, I’ll be a kindergarten mom.
Just like they said it would, time has flown by in spite of my best efforts and my first baby is off to school.
Eight months ago when we registered for kindergarten it was such a distant thought that it didn’t seem real. To me, he was still such a baby: loved his naps, had pudgy toddler fingers, and gleefully told us he was “free and a half!” years old. I didn’t have the emotional response that some others did, I think because it felt so far away.
I hereby admit that I totally underestimated what a massive shift in our life this whole kindergarten thing would be. My intention, to be honest, has been to resist talking about it constantly. My little guy, just like me, has some anxious tendencies and my mama instinct told me that the bigger we made it out to be, the bigger it would seem to him and that just wasn’t how I wanted him to feel the first time that yellow bus came chugging toward him. “This is the end of my childhood, goodbye.” Nope, nope, nope.
So, I put off the emotional stuff. I channeled it into boosting his (my?) confidence in every way I could think of: I got him an awesomely obnoxious Paw Patrol lunch bag, stuffed it with chocolate chip chia seed energy balls (I only Pinterest when I’m nervous, anyone else?) and set his first day outfit of choice (green shirt, green pants, green socks and green underwear – I kid you not) on his dresser before bed.
Tonight though, as I tucked him in, all sorts of thoughts and emotions bubbled to the surface. I listened to this breaths in the dark as I doodled on his back (he gives us specific instructions: “Can you draw we’re on a boat and we have strawberries and Aquaman is riding a Sea-Doo?”) and thought about all the ways in which I’ve changed since becoming his mother. He made me a mother, for starters. So…in some ways I feel like everything about me has changed. Our birth experience sent me down a life-changing path that lead to becoming a doula (!) and I’m immensely grateful for that. He changed me in other ways too, though. At least in the beginning, motherhood made me less sure of myself, less decisive. It prompted constant inner dialogue about what was “best” and if I was good enough, mom enough. All of that is BS, I know, but it’s real and it’s hard to ignore.
I cuddled in a little closer than usual and then, as if we were the stars of every 90s teen drama, it began to rain. Hard. The sky burst into tears as I felt the pangs of self-doubt, of mom guilt, of I’M NOT READY FOR THIS.
Did I show him enough kindness?
Did I teach him enough?
Was I patient enough?
Lost in my mega vulnerable crocodile tears/Joey Potter Dawson’s Creek daydream, I really didn’t know the answers. I know what I would say to a friend though: yes, yes, and yes.
Should I have taken him on more play dates?
Should I have stayed home full time?
Should I have breastfed longer?
Should I have done more of those Pinterest baby sensory things?
Should I have pushed him harder?
Should I have been less strict?
Again, I know what I would say to a friend: you did all the right things, you made the perfect choices for your family, you are SO enough that you have no idea how enough you are, please go look in the mirror and scream I AM AWESOME AND MY KID IS PERFECT!!!
New and soon-to-be parents of the world: you most likely will not ever stop questioning your own parenting. Notice that I’m not giving you advice; just keeping it real. New and soon-to-be kindergarten parents of the world: we’re going to survive this, just like we we’ve survived every other major milestone so far. I don’t know all of you so I can’t assume that like me, your strategies have mostly involved wine and kettle chips…that’s what’s been working for me, though.
Parent friends who know me in real life: I’ll bring the merlot, you bring the Miss Vickies, come over for a cry on the porch and we’ll do it all again the next day until it feels normal. My left brain knows we’re all going to be fine but my heart is Joey Potter, crying awkwardly in the rain.