The Start of Kindergarten a Mix of Emotions
When he was 4 months old, he got his first tooth. At 13 months, he took his first steps. At 3 years old, he transitioned from a crib into a “big boy bed”. And this week, he embarks on another major milestone: his first day of school.
With every new transition in his life, there’s been this initial excitement, but there was also this sadness over the end of this old phase. When he first said “Mommy”, I cried because it meant I was no longer going to be called “Mama”. When he started walking, I was equal parts excited that he had reached this milestone yet also sad that I’d no longer see his cute little butt waddle down the hallway. I mean that was the whole reason I’d bought all these Carters pants with little bears, tigers and monsters on the butt.
When he transitioned to a big boy bed my body felt relief, as lifting 30 pounds over the crib rails was starting to take a toll on my back, but it also meant I would never again come into his room and see him standing in his crib with his little head poking up over the side rails with the biggest smile that would just melt my heart and make me forget the previous night of getting up every hour.
But going to big boy school feels like the biggest milestone to date. It’s the start of his school career. Tomorrow he will put on a uniform, officially becoming a “school aged kid”.
This start of school has hit me HARD and in ways I didn’t expect. Like every new phase in his life so far, there’s the excitement for the next stage in life, and the sadness for something that’s ending.
On Friday we said goodbye to his preschool teachers, the ladies he’s known and loved for the past two years. We said goodbye to the friends he made during that time and goodbye to the routine that’s held our life together. On Tuesday, there will be new teachers, new friends, a new routine, and a whole other set of new things; some of which I’m excited about and others that I’m honestly a little scared of.
I’m excited for all that he’s going to learn. I’m a book nerd so I’m of course excited about sitting with him at the kitchen table working on his homework (that is until he starts doing fractions and math that’s beyond my comprehension). Yet I’m at the same time nervous about the expectations that will now be placed upon him. There is now an entire government department that will assess my child’s aptitude. He’ll be told he’ll make a great engineer, or lawyer, or doctor based on his performance on standardized tests. Today, this four year old told me he wanted to be Iron Man when he grows up. His imagination knows no boundaries. Will that imagination now be hampered by the expectations and the boundaries of others?
I’m excited about the field trips he’ll take, allowing him to explore our world and learn about things that I haven’t taught him, yet I’m terrified about his first experience on a school bus and I won’t lie when I say I’ve thought about following behind the bus in my car.
I’m sure he’ll make new friends, but I worry about him comparing himself to others and believing that he is anything less than the stellar little boy I know he is. I worry what will happen when we invite all the kids in the class to his birthday party. Will they come? Will birthday party attendance become the measure of how well my kid is liked in school? What about when I hear that all the kids in the class got an invitation to Jake’s party and my kid didn’t? I don’t think I’m ready for that level of heartbreak and as much as I have tried to raise him as a strong, confident little boy, these are the years when that self confidence gets tested.
Then there’s the fact that the start of school means the realization that my baby is no longer my baby, but my kid. This one hit hard when I tried on his school uniform and looked at this little man standing before me in a collared shirt that made him look years older than he did when he was wearing his Paw Patrol t-shirt a moment ago. That emotion is probably amplified by the fact that he’s my only child. There is no older sibling who has been through this transition already, and no younger sibling I get to baby a little while longer. In some ways I’m grieving this part of his childhood; this time of first steps and belly giggles and tight hugs and rocking chair snuggles.
And so tomorrow marks the beginning of a new phase of life; an end to the baby years and the start of a new chapter; one I’m still not sure about yet but one that I’m sure will bring some amazing moments that I’ll be happy to share with you here and I hope that the next mama going through this transition will be able to read and feel ok about the new phase of her life with her mini. In the meantime, though, I still really miss being called “Mama”.