Fair warning: This is a post that discusses some of my vulnerabilities. I’m putting myself out there. If you must judge, keep it to yo’ damn self. Just saying.
So I did a summary of M’s first day and this is the behind-the-scenes pass.
Things have been chugging along in our little world and somehow before I knew it, it was time to get M ready for her first day of preschool. I’m sure a lot of parents go through the same feeling with their first child: How did this happen? How did my child grow up so fast? OMG, I’m not ready!
And because I am particularly protective and already an emotional person even when I’m not pregnant, there are some nutty thoughts that cross my mind: What if she cries and feels abandoned that I’m not there? This may happen… hopefully not. What if someone’s mean to her? Some kid undoubtedly will be… What if a kid makes her cry? There will be one… What if she gets hurt? It will probably happen at some point. What if she lags behind the other kids in development? She’s on track so far, but you never know! What if she cries? She probably will. What if she’s not ready? She probably is. What if I’m a blubbering puddle on the first day? I probably will be. What if…?
Don’t get me wrong, I knew this was all coming. I’ve read articles. I’ve talked to several parents who have been through this. We visited the school several times; the week before even bringing her along so she could see her classroom, meet her teachers and play with some of her soon-to-be classmates. She even has a classmate that attends her gym class. We’d talked to her about it for weeks. She seemed really excited to make new friends and meet her new teachers. It’s a well-rated school and the staff is competent. That still didn’t appease that stupid little voice in my head. The neurotic one that worries about EVERYTHING.
So I do what I always do. My defenses go up. I deploy my fool-proof method of coping in highly-emotional (to me) scenarios. I get Asian. I turn into this business-like, focus on numbers, logical, pragmatic and efficient person. Not to say that I don’t possess those qualities on a regular basis, but typically my heart rules my head. In scenarios where my heart determines that it can’t deal, it just completely ceases to function and cedes all control to my head. This is also not to say that I’m “cold” but certainly much less emotional than I would normally be. It keeps me from losing sleep over stuff and most of the time gives me a chance to make the “smart” decision. Doesn’t sound too bad, except at some point all of that energy I’m repressing needs to be released.
We prepared everything in advance and I made a nice full breakfast for everyone this morning: Eggs, sausage, petit pain, juice, coffee for the adults and some fruit. We got M dressed , made sure she had everything she needed including her lovey, and headed out the door. In the interest of not potentially making the goodbye process worse, the Hubs decided to stay in the car with G while I walked M to class. I walked her in, dropped off her bag, helped her wash her hands and re-introduced her to her teacher and classmates. She seemed a bit shy but when I told her I needed to leave there was a big hug and kiss, she said goodbye and off she went. I left and closed the door behind me but stayed to peek through the window to see what station she would gravitate towards first. Books. She picked an ocean book. Awesome.
I should have just turned and left. But I hesitated.
Just like that little voice in my head had predicted, M looked around, realized that I had actually gone, and tears welled in her little eyes. She started to cry. And as a parent, you know that face. It’s the panic face. It’s the I’m scared face. My heart pounded. It was one of those heavy, aching pounds. The kind that makes you want to clutch your chest before it implodes (yeah, I know. It’s just preschool but I have no qualms with admitting I’m just sensitive like that). I stood there trying to not be seen while struggling with the intense desire to run in, scoop her up in my arms and tell her I’d never leave her again. Did I mention I have a babysitter that I leave M with? It’s not like I’ve never left her with someone before… This is just different. Anyway, so I managed to resist running in and saving the day, and thank God, not 10 seconds later, the Assistant Teacher came over, sat with M to read her book and sure enough she perked right up and stopped crying.
I took a deep breath, walked back out to the car and told the Hubs what happened (minus all the emotion of course) on the 2 minute ride home in the car (hey, don’t judge, I’m 9-months pregnant — there’s no way I’m walking in this heat. Even at 9 in the morning. We live in the South y’all). I dragged my rather-large-tuckus (read: HUGE) up our 3 flights of stairs (*panting*… *catching breath* … *cough*), kissed the Hubs goodbye and put Little Man down for his nap. I was fine. Not a tear shed. I had plans to start laundry and the other items on my daily list, except I could feel it building.
I need a cup of coffee. And you know what? I’m going to fold the laundry in a half an hour. I’m going to sit and watch a show.
Maybe subconsciously I knew I needed to release all that pent-up anxiety from the last few days of prepping for this. I generally despise reality shows but the one I do watch is my guilty pleasure: Long Island Medium. I love me some Theresa Caputo. So I turned on a recorded episode and as I was watching, I felt my ears start to get hot. Before I knew it, Theresa’s doing a reading and I was a hot blubbering mess. I don’t generally get so emotional when watching her show but it was apparently what I needed to process the emotions of having my baby head out into the world without me (yes, yes, I know. What a drama-queen right? I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, but that’s what it felt like to me). So after a good few minutes of heaving and a handful of tissues, I told myself to get it together and fold the damn laundry.
After a few loads had been folded and put away, I felt the panic starting to settle back in so instead of letting my neuroses take over, I picked up the phone and called the school. M had cried once or twice but it was short-lived just like what I had witnessed in the morning. She had painted, done circle time, had a snack and she and the Assistant Teacher were playing in the play-kitchen area of the room.
Whew. Ok. I’m good. I’m good.
At a quarter to noon, G and I made our way over to pick M up, and when we arrived, she was lying on the floor on her belly, listening intently to her teacher read to the group. I didn’t interrupt but when she did see me it was a joyful (not a “how dare you leave me!”) hello followed by a big hug and a “Mama, I played friends!”. She had been fine.
The Assistant Teacher commented that M looked tired and I made the correlation that her outburst when I left in the morning may have been due to the fact that she was a little more sensitive than usual from having woken up so early this morning (likely due to the excitement of knowing that it was her first day). The teachers have warned me that the second day is usually the hardest because the kids now know that the parents will leave, but I’m crossing my fingers that M will get a good night’s rest tomorrow and all will go without a hitch.
I had anticipated having some uncomfortable feelings to deal with regarding M starting school but it just reminded me so much of a very bad experience we had with a daycare that I think I’m being even more conscious about how I feel. I totally think that it could have been worse, but I had told myself that I was going to hold it together. That I was, for once, not going to get hypersensitive about something like this…
So much for not being an emotional basket case.