For Moms & Kids Everywhere

School starts tomorrow. In some places it has already begun. In others, summer will last another week. No matter your location, if you are a mom with school-age children you face a new beginning:

Your child is going back. Or going for the first time.

Maybe you feel like this

crying

Or possibly you’re more this

excited

You could be both, but one thing is certain, you are feeling something. And that something is okay to feel. You should be anxious, a little bit stressed, not quite sure how it’s gonna pan out, and also secretly lusting over the brief moment in the morning after you’ve dropped the kid off but before the day actually has to begin for real. Savor the precious solitude of the car ride to wherever (if you don’t have a toddler in the back throwing Cheerios at your head) (if that’s the case, remember you chose to have that baby, and she is a precious cherub sent from God) because uninterrupted thinking time is vital.

To mother’s of Kindergartners, don’t panic. Kids are scarily intuitive. You might think you’re holding your shit together but in reality you look like this to your five year old

crazy

I’m gonna be real with you, most kids will lose it, or at the very least cry, on the first day of Kindergarten. That new classroom and those new kids and all that new shit on the walls they can’t quite read is just TOO MUCH. It’s hard to process, and they don’t want to disappoint you, or to look like a wuss, so they need you to be brave for them. Remember that earlier gif of TSwift? Yeah, get that out of your system before tomorrow morning. Be a Disney Princess smiling through the emotional damage you’re about to incur.

cinderella

It’s for the kids.

My son starts first grade tomorrow. I am not old enough to have a first grader. Some days, I’m not even old enough to have a houseplant. But, somehow, in the years since I had my sweet baby boy to now, he has grown tall and lean, started playing video games and decided he wants to marry the Pink Power Ranger. He’s able to read. He won’t just sink if he falls into the deep end of the swimming pool. He’s lost five teeth.

Part of me wants to pretend he hasn’t grown up at all because the reality that soon he won’t be able to sit in my lap or let me kiss him on the lips is almost too much to accept.

You could too. But we shouldn’t.

As parents, it’s essential that we give our babies the chance to be big. We have to let them face fears and conquer obstacles because the world is littered with traps and terrors they must learn now to overcome. Yes, we may want to tenderly kiss their foreheads and coo in their ears like when they were babes, but that’s not really what they need from us now.

They need us to listen. To play the game with them. To answer their questions and acknowledge their anxiety. They need us to agree that it’s scary — kindergarten, first grade, LIFE — because holy shit it really is, but it can also be great if you work hard and stay strong.

They need to learn from us that backing down from the challenge isn’t the answer. And when they struggle — because they will struggle, guys, they will hate it and they will cry about it, and around Christmas they will be DYING for a break — they need to know you care that all they want to do is veg out on the couch and watch Holiday movies while eating cookies.

And they need you sitting beside them. Just existing with them in the moment, showing them it’s okay to slow down, to say no, to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

In the end, it’s not really about school, or tests, it’s not how well they behave or what the other kids think of them. It’s about knowing they can (you can, too). We all can. Knowing you can is a powerful concept. An idea worth believing. A chance worth taking.

fly

Acceptance

Sometimes I very much wish I was writing something else. I wish it was lighter, gentler. I wish it made me feel peaceful to have these voices in my head. I’ve been reading a book lately that has a decidedly sad tone, but somehow it renews my romance with the world. My book is not like that. My book is a journey, and that journey begins in darkness. And that darkness is overwhelming.

I’ve been thinking about this struggle, this inherent desire to be in someone else’s process, to feel what they feel when they write something lighter. I read a lot of YA, and the trend in young adult fiction is to be a angst-ridden, to create a dystopian world, or to talk about teenage sexuality. When I set out to write my book, there was no choice in doing YA. The book just happened that way. The idea, the voice that came out, it was more for the teens than the adults. Not that adults won’t like it. All my early readers are adults. A lot of adults swoon for YA. But it wasn’t my goal to write YA, it was an accident.

So, I think what I’m trying to say is, you must accept that you will write what you write. You can’t change that. I don’t mean we write what we know. Jo March did, and it worked for her. I mean we write what comes out, we commit to a work of fiction because it exists within us and it needs to get out. It’s not always a journey we understand, but most of the time, it’s still the search of our own life. It’s the good and bad of us, or of us in our current state.

Be OK with your work, whatever it is. Let it grow in you. It may not be literary fiction. It may be a summer romance read. It may be a crime drama. It may be the next Harry Potter. (There will be a next one, someday, when the world is hungry enough for it.) What you write has a purpose, and on some level, for someone, it will be exactly what they need. Acceptance is the first step to writing…or recovery…or dieting. Let it nestle you in a warm, gut-squeezing, cartoon style hug.