I’ve tried to start this post a million times in a million different ways, and I just can’t seem to land on how to write about this, but here goes. My oldest starts kindergarten next week, and with that comes a whole lot of feelings. Mostly excitement for her, maybe a few nerves: my girl is brave and confident. But for me, and I suspect all the other moms who are with me and have gone before me, there are more complex emotions involved.
The beginning of a new school year always feels magical to me. As a kid, it was the new clothes and new supplies and the smell of new books and the wondering who would be in my class and who would be at the front of my class. As a teacher, it was the clean halls and bare walls, the low lights and true calm before the storm. It was the stacks of books to be sorted, the pillows and rugs to fluff, the beautiful lesson plans to write, which I knew would inevitably be altered mid-class. The magic was in meeting my new students and their families, all of us with butterflies and smiles, hopeful for the coming nine months.
Now, though, I’m on the other side. I’m not teaching right now, instead I’m the one taking my big girl to meet her teacher, buying her new clothes and supplies and lunchbox and yes, a few books (I mean, Captain Underpants was on sale for $4 at Target! Couldn’t resist.) But as we walked around Target, new favorite Starbucks coffee in hand (that salted foam cold brew thing is DELISH), with an excited girl throwing all the things into the cart, I couldn’t help but take inventory of how I was feeling about all of this.
I would be lying if I didn’t say I was counting down the days to the first day of school for somewhat selfish reasons. We’ve had a great summer of lounging in pjs until noon and playing lots and reading lots, but also there have been sibling arguments and thrown toys and tears and slammed doors. It will be a nice change of pace with just one little munchkin to chase around at home. I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you that I started to feel really guilty about this. Like, am I just ready for one kid to go away so I can have some peace and quiet? Sounds really gross when it’s worded like that, right?
But the countdown is more than that for me. A little bit of it is selfish; I think that’s part of our nature. But also, I’m SO excited for my girl and her next adventure. She is smart and inquisitive, soaks up information like a sponge, devours books one after the other like a binge eater with a pack of Oreos. But she is also kind and loves her friends. Her brother’s constant company and her mom’s lack of imagination has been a bit of a letdown for her dramatic play at times. She is ready for kindergarten in more ways than I even know. And I’m just so excited for her to experience all of it: the joy she’ll find in learning new things, in becoming her own type of leader, in making new friends.
People have been asking me if I’m sad about her starting kindergarten. And really, I understand why they ask. Starting school marks the end of an era, a significant transition in the parent/child relationship, and lots of things seem like they change all at once. I also think there’s a societal pressure to feel a certain way about starting school–some schools even have special receptions for crying parents after dropping their babies off at kindergarten. I’m guilty of this too, publicly lamenting getting rid of baby clothes and transitioning to a big girl bedroom. But I probably won’t be the mom crying at kindergarten drop-off (and absolutely NO judgement if you’re that mom- we are all wired differently, we all love our kids the same). My plan is to give my girl a big hug, watch her walk into her next adventure with courage, and then be ready to hear all about it when I pick her up.
I also know that this year will bring lots of growth, and being a witness to that growth is the true privilege of parenthood. When May rolls around again, she’ll be taller and wiser, we’ll have read who knows how many books together, she will have new friends and more confidence. I know that there will be heartbreak this year, too, she’ll mess up and be disappointed and friends will hurt her feelings. I’m bracing for it, not pessimistically, but planning for how to respond to her with grace, helping her cultivate resilience and make the most of life’s lessons. It’s all important and it’s all exciting.
I’m getting to watch her become who she was meant to be, and I get to have a hand in it. She may be at school five days a week, and I will miss her like crazy, but I know important learning is going on there. And the rest of her time spent at home? Important learning goes on here, too. I used to tell parents of my new students, “You are their first and most important teachers.” As a mom myself, I fully believe this is the truth.
So, as I pray for a good teacher and sweet friends for my girl, I’m resting in the knowledge that she will be okay. She will make mistakes and she will succeed, but in every step she will grow, and in every step she will add another layer to her spunky personality. However you’re feeling about the start of a new school year, dear friend, I hope you can bask in the promise of progress and growth, remembering your own excitement for the beginnings of new things. And I hope, that with a new schedule and routine, we can all gain back a little of our sanity, too!
What I’ve Been Reading:
In case you haven’t seen my bookish social media posts, here are some notable books I’ve read and loved lately:
In Nonfiction/Parenting: These provided me with some fresh perspective on the growth and development of my kiddos, one from a brain science place, the other from a spiritual one. I loved them both.
In Middle Grade: These were absolutely beautiful books, Wishtree written from the perspective of an old tree that had seen many changes in her neighborhood, and Criss Criss a random collection of characters and scenes that made me nostalgic for my childhood.
In Young Adult: Darius the Great is about a young Iranian American who goes to visit his dying grandfather for the first time in Iran. I loved his honesty and wanted to give him a big hug at the end. A Curse so Dark and Lonely is an EXCELLENT Beauty and the Beast retelling- I loved every second!
And in “Grownup” Fiction: I loved this sweet novel about Lillian Boxfish, the highest paid female advertiser in the 1930s. She takes a walk around New York City at age 85 (but she’ll tell you she’s only 84) and thinks back on how her life has gone and how the city has changed. She is spunky and funny and a great strong female character.
Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.