Today is my son's 1st day of pre-school. We've been waiting, excitedly, for this day for 2-and-a-half years. He gave me a smile, a high five, and a "bye Mommy" when I dropped him off. He's happy...so why am I crying?!
Anxiety much Caroline?! Yes, yes I do.
You would think I would be so over this by now...3rd child...I've done all these milestones before. Yet, my stomach is turning and my shoulders are high and tight.
Now, you will be happy to know I didn't cry at drop-off. I know better. Dropping off a child at school is like a band aid — doing it fast is so much better. I've seen the parents hang around, hug without stop, try to talk their clinging-crying kids down...and I've always felt bad for the teachers. Prolonging the departure is painful — for everyone. Teachers know their jobs...and it's our role to let them do their jobs. Despite the separate anxiety of kids (or us parents).
No, I gritted my teeth - put on my game face — said I would be back soon with a smile and a wink. And then two blocks away let the silent tears fall (you know those silent tears?...like the ones which fall when you watch a super sad moment in a movie.It's devastating, immediate, yet passes quickly. DS was totally fine at drop-off. Me?...two blocks away?...tearing up like I had just watched Mr. Darcy leave.
Walking away, I felt...a profound sadness.
Isn't it crazy that his milestone makes me sad? (yes, I felt the same way when both my big kids started day care...and kindergarten...and grade 8). There is something about them passing milestones which makes me stop in my tracks.
Do we call this Back To School Parental Anxiety? The stress of them starting something new...without us. Yes, I raise my hand when you ask if I'm a helicopter parent. And a snowplow parent. Guilty. I worry about them making friends. Adapting to a new situation. Going to the bathroom...in the actual bathroom and not in their underwear. Perhaps its my own confidence which is in question.
They certainly don't seem to have confidence issues. That hi-5 my toddler gave me this morning? It was strong and sure. He was happy to go into the pre-school room. Beside him...two little girls...facing armageddon...with tears and tantrums to fight it all the way. No...I wouldn't want that experience (poor kids...poor parents...poor teacher!).
On one level, I know my back-to-school anxiety is simply fear of the unknown (like most students experience). But on another level, I just want to cling.
Deep breath, game face, and keep smiling...tomorrow is another school day.