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.

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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

Turn, Turn, Turn…


turnturn

Summer is gone in a flash, like lightning it is bright, hot…fleeting. Raising children, there are times when every moment seems to pass at this lighting speed. There are also times that seem to stretch so long in an eternity of torture that you begin to wonder if you are the punchline in some cruel joke. When you are raising a child, time is precious and boundless and finite and endless.

Tomorrow comes fast on the heels of today. Tomorrow my five year old becomes a Kindergartner, and even though he has been to pre-school and made friends from strangers and coped with new situations and learned in a group setting before, this is still a new and unknown adventure.

There are all kinds of mothers in the world. Some moms work outside the home. Some are crafty. Some pre-cook meals and freeze them and some are just fine with pizza three times a week. No one way is guaranteed to produce a happy, whole, well-adjusted child, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. But there is one instinct that I believe all mothers will understand.

The instinct to protect.

We all know it is best for our children to learn to cope with stress, to handle conflict, to problem solve. We all also know the best way to lose weight is slowly, through diet and exercise, but we all secretly hope that three day cleanse will work just as well and faster.

The radical, rule-breaker, fist-fighter inside me wants to redo elementary school alongside my son, creating a shield of rebellious protection. The mother in me doesn’t even want to argue with her. But the woman who had to learn the hard way that you must fight your own battles to truly have won, she is the still small voice — less amusing and less passionate, but no less correct. She reminds the other two that they must chill, they can’t beat up the world no matter how much they may want to, and in the end, the best thing for the kid is to just hang back and hope.

Every stage requires letting go. The baby stage, when they look at us like we are the only thing in the whole universe worth acknowledging: gone. The just walking, talking, eating everything, making up words, laughing because you blew a bubble and wow that’s the best: gone. The I can do it, pitch a fit when I can’t, still let you do it because I got bored: gone. The I really got this, back off: gone.

Children move in and out of moments like lightning, too, their faces alive with the glow of newness. And over and over again we feel them slip from our fingers, tearing at the scabs on our hearts. Eventually, we recognize the sensation. The tugging at our grip. The pressure to give some space. It comes from them, it comes from the world waiting for them, and even, sometimes it comes from us.

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We can be Zen about it, we can kick and scream, but still we are stabbed in the heart by our own offspring. We welcome the wounds. We revel in the pain because it means we are doing it well. Tomorrow my son will go to Kindergarten and I will smile and cheer and walk away no matter how much it hurts, and all the tears I want to cry will happen in the car ride home, because even though all I want to do is grab him and run, what I have to do is let go.