Sending My Baby to Kindergarten and Finding Myself a New Normal
Here it is again, the start to a new school year. But this year is different….very different. This year my baby starts kindergarten.
As I looked around, this summer, it was obvious that I am no longer a stroller mom. You know the stroller moms. The ones who:
- Takes 10 minutes to unstrap the kids and get out of the car
- Has her hair unbrushed and spit up on her clothes
- Tired (I mean, really tired)
- Most days doesn’t leave the house due to nap schedules and too much trouble to leave
- Carrying 100 things at a time
I could go on….
Although I’m still many of those things, I’m no longer in baby phase. I still deal with tantrums with a louder much bigger child. I still wear yoga pants when I’m not going to yoga. I’m still tired and flustered but the differences are huge.
When I was a stroller mom, I remember someone telling me baby phase was ok because “Big kid, big problems.” I remember looking at her and nodding while thinking, “Talk to me when I’ve slept more than 4 hours straight.”
And it’s true. Baby moms can’t fully see the beauty in these chubby tiny babies because they suck the life out of you. Their problems are eat, sleep, play, poop, repeat. My baby now faces bullies, learning at a pace that pushes towards testing, increased independence, relationships that I don’t control and situations I can not protect him from.
As my son takes steps towards his kindergarten doors I regain some of myself. I regain time in my day, energy that was taken and quiet I have not had in 8 years. All of these things I wished for as a stay at home mom desperate in the winter months feeling trapped and lonely are now coming to me. And now I want my babies back.
For years, all I wanted to do was go to the store alone. I was once tapped on the shoulder by a nice old woman who calmly said, “Miss, your daughter is standing in the cart.” As I turned my head back from the cereal aisle she took a leap from her seat and I caught her. I wanted the calm and now the calm just feels boring. I talk to myself and look crazy (They were never really listened but at least I had someone with me.) I need my shopping buddies!
I’m now the mom smiling at babies and telling stories about mine while the stroller mom is thinking, “Talk to me when I’m sleeping more.”
When your baby goes to kindergarten it’s an end of an era. It’s an era that some may happily leave behind with the diapers and child care tuition. But with new eras come new problems, big kid problems.
It will change us both. As a stay at home mom, I gave up my life. I gave up my job, my only friends were moms at the library and I sacrificed a lot while my husband traveled, I nursed and battled chronic migraine without medication. I look back at those years as really hard. Like, tears rolling down my face as I’m writing this HARD. Those were the days I didn’t recognize myself because I wasn’t just myself, I was them. Every second of my day revolved around these tiny humans that I had pushed out of my body and continued to give. Gone are the days of playing and reading to them all day while no longer scraping play doh out of their mouths and running around wild.
The possibilities of this year are new to my kindergartner, new to me and similar in nature.
I hope he is safe. We all need safety.
I hope he makes many strong friendships. I hope to see more of mine.
I hope he is healthy with the new cesspool of germs that will live in his classroom. I hope with the added time to myself that I can focus more on my health and advocating to improve the lives of many migraine and chronic illness fighters.
As my baby finds his way to the kindergarten doors, it’s hard not to think that I won’t be needed as much. The reality is, after my oldest went, she needed me more in a big kid, big problem kind of way. I may not need to teach him to speak, but I need to teach him to communicate. I may not need to put him down for a nap but I need to help him understand how to relax and decompress after a long day. I’m no longer his only friend and I need to help him navigate the ways of friendship, building lasting ones and avoiding toxic people. My baby bird is leaving the nest and I know he will soar above the clouds as I count the seconds until he’s securely tucked back in.
Whether you were a stay at home mom or a full-time working parent who has had their child in day care since they were a few months old, you still face the fear of “big kid, big problems.” You may be looking forward to no more child care payments. You may be relieved to have some added time. But we all face change in schedule and dynamics in the home. Everyone’s lives change.
I’m no longer the stroller mom. I’m the car pool mom, the sports mom, the where ever life takes them mom, the still tired mom. Regardless of the title, I’m just so proud to be mom.
To a happy, healthy, safe and fun school year!