Tomorrow morning I will walk my two oldest boys to school for their first day of the year. They are entering 3rd grade and kindergarten. When my oldest started Kindergarten, I was anxious, emotional, and nostalgic. I wondered how my little tiny boy would find his way to his classroom carrying such a large back pack. I cried at his open house when the assistant asked me how he would be getting home from school and I dreaded the first day of school.
Fast forward- just four short years (that have felt like very long years in some ways) and my second son is starting Kindergarten. I didn’t cry at open house and I watched with enthusiasm as he played with Legos in his Kindergarten classroom. I took way less pictures. I chatted with familiar teachers and neighbors in the hallway and it wasn’t until I was back in my home that I marveled at the fact that I didn’t even come close to tears (unless you count tears of joy). I may have even danced a little as we walked to the car.
I felt excited and at ease. Perhaps it is because the first time around there was so much unknown. I didn’t know a single staff member when my oldest started school and it felt like I was handing my baby over to strangers. Or perhaps I am more comfortable because I know what to expect, I have faith in the school, and trust in the administration. Or maybe, just maybe… it is because of the tireless work towards recovery I have plunged myself into over the past two and a half years. I have faced fears, challenged irrational beliefs, learned to live more in the present, and gotten to know what my true core values as a person are. I have painstakingly challenged fear by learning to trust in life, embrace the unknown, and find beauty in the chaos. Sure, I still tend to be anxious…. and when I picture my little Leo walking down the hallway with a big backpack on, I start to feel butterflies in my stomach. I wonder- will he find his way? Will his classmates be nice to him? Will he be nice to his classmates? Does he know how truly special he is? Will his teachers know how truly special he is? BUT I also realize these are all situations that I can not control. And that I am not meant to control. Whatever happens, we will figure it out, work through it, and grow from it.
Recovery has also taught me about accepting and allowing feelings and that I can feel more than one thing at a time. I am ecstatic at the promise of a small break from refereeing, entertaining, and feeding three boys all day, every day while I also feel a bit sad and anxious about my little man in the big school. Most importantly though, I understand that being excited about my sons returning to school doesn’t make me a “bad” mom. It doesn’t mean that I love them any less and it doesn’t mean that I am doing something wrong. There are a million different ways to parent and a million different ways to feel on the first day of school. And recovery has taught me not to judge myself or my fellow moms – however they are feeling. After all- it is one of the toughest and most amazing jobs ever. And even the best jobs need breaks! So however you are feeling this Fall as the kids head off to school- give yourself some compassion and allow yourself to feel it. And please don’t judge your fellow moms. Even if they do dance a little as they walk away from school after dropping of their kids. 🙂