If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen my journal post for today. The story goes a little deeper than just feeling good about having 8 hours to myself. I want to talk about the first day of kindergarten and ease my guilt for not walking my young one to her class. This may sound like justification and to be honest, it partly is. See, she’s been fired up to ride the bus to school for more than a year now. It is one of the exciting points of going to school, in her mind. On her 5th birthday this year, she jumped out of bed at 5:30 ready to get dressed and ride because “you go to school when you are five.”
When we started talking about the first day, we realized she expected to ride the bus. When we asked her if she wanted us to take her to school, she responded that she really wanted to ride. We conceded, mostly because I don’t want to walk her into the school. It’s an emotional trigger, comparable but not completely (at all), to handing your grown woman to a man at the end of the aisle. I’m walking out of a room to leave my precious, sweet, strong 5-year-old with a woman I don’t know and children who will surely hurt her one day. Notwithstanding, that my child will definitely hurt another’s feelings (ignorantly, I hope).
Also, the school is absolute chaos and cramped and I don’t believe the teachers want you there. I believe this process of walking kids to their class is for your benefit, not your child’s. You won’t be there to walk your child through every new experience they have at school. It may take them a month to get used to this process, but the school only tolerates your assistance for max the first week. I know my perspective may seem harsh and unfeeling and it partly is. I’m not a “normal” mom and never will be. I see this as a string of milestones in her life. This is her first day of school, not mine. If she tells me she is fine, I will support her in those feelings. If she had said she wanted me to take her to school, believe me, I would have been there.
I believe instilling confidence in your children requires you to block out the “what ifs” and focus on what is. I had a moment where I considered her sitting at the breakfast table, looking around while other mom’s sat with their kids. Or her watching other mom’s drop her classmates off. I asked my husband “what if she wonders why I’m not there.” Enter, another lesson: Your words mean something. It’s a serious and advanced lesson to learn at 5, but still good to know from the beginning. If you say you need space, I’ll give space. If you say you need me, I’ll be there.
As I’m writing this it is 8:16; she’s presently in the classroom, listening to her teacher. All of the parents are gone, she is now the same as everyone else. Except, she survived eating breakfast in the lunchroom and walking to class with her teacher. I hope this has boosted her feeling of independence and self-efficacy. And even if I made the wrong choice I pray for grace. Because one day she may sit across from me and say, “You didn’t even walk me to my first day of kindergarten!” And no matter my excuse or reason, I will be responsible for my choice.
Note to Mothers and Fathers: You are a badass! Whether you walked your kid to class, dropped them off at the line, or sent them on the bus like me. I could never judge another parent for a choice they make for their child. My post may sound like I have a firm opinion, but I don’t. I’m backing a choice I made and I don’t have complete confidence. There is part of me who wishes I had seen her off and had the emotional, choked up goodbye I know would have occurred.