How was everyone’s first day of school? For the past week or so, I’ve been tearing myself apart emotionally – a favorite pastime of mine – over the fact that I was GLAD the kids were going back to school. Seemed like every day, I’d read or hear a mom expressing her sadness about her last few days of summer with her children and how lonely she’d be without them and how she loved summer and would cry to see them go back to school.
And every time I’d wonder to myself: What’s wrong with ME? Am I not a “real” mom? Because I felt exactly NONE of those sentiments. Where was I when they handed out that kool-aid that I obviously did not get a drink of? I even went so far as to wonder if perhaps the fact that I’ve never had a child grow in my womb and appear from my lady garden was the real reason why I was not-so-secretly thrilled at the prospect of full days to myself.
We had a great summer. We really did. Better than I thought it would be, certainly I enjoyed my time with the kids more than I thought I would. I love them TO BITS, but I was ready for them to go to school, and they were ready to be there. We were getting on each other’s nerves and a bitta separation was needed.
Oh sure – I’ve encountered a few moms with similar feelings to mine, even ones that have given birth, but somehow it felt like we were a very small minority club.
Anyhow, I did not shed a tear yesterday, unlike Baby Girl’s first day of school ever, last year:
I sent her off to school yesterday with nothing but the usual mom-worry that she could get hurt, could get bullied, could get into trouble, but I wasn’t sad to see her leave my side and enter her classroom.
I was excited at the prospect of getting her to school again today, as this was scheduled to be my first real day to myself after a busy, shortened school day yesterday.
But Baby Girl was not going to make it easy for me this morning. Her first 25 minutes awake were spent in the bathroom. This fact presents an interesting “nature-versus-nurture” discussion, considering I also rise to an extended morning constitution, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.
Baby Girl has exactly 75 minutes to do her bathroom business, eat, wash up and get dressed, from the time she awakens until we must be walking out the door to avoid the dreaded late slip. To say it is ALWAYS a rush and stressful time is not an exaggeration. This morning was no different in HER actions, but this year, I committed to my mental health that I refuse to engage in morning power struggles and battles over eating breakfast, which was last year’s usual cause for delay.
Today, the fruit smoothie and single slice grilled cheese were waiting for her when she arrived in the kitchen. She had 25 minutes left to eat it. More than enough time to consume this healthy breakfast that generally goes over fairly well with my non-breakfast eater.
Just not today. No sir – she was having NONE of that. Captain Sassypants arrived at the table and told me very clearly that she would not be eating breakfast.
DON’T eat. I’m fine with that. Because it’s YOU that will be hungry and have tummy pains at school from an empty belly.
She didn’t care.
And it made me crazy.
But I held firm and did NOT let her see my anxiety.
I was the QUEEN of nonchalance.
So today, for the first time in the almost-four years since we adopted her, I let Captain Sassypants leave the house without ANY breakfast. No, 3 sips of smoothie and one teeny tiny nibble of grilled cheese do not count as breakfast.
And I did not say one word about it.
Except that inside I was DYING. Dying of guilt – that damned running theme of parenthood – that she would be hungry. Dying with worry that she might tell the teacher that she hadn’t had any breakfast and it would seem like MY fault. Dying with anger that she refused to eat and was willing to take her quest for control to THAT level.
THEN IT HIT ME.
This was my punishment. THIS was the price I was paying for WANTING her to be back at school. Maybe if I was in the mom-club that feels sad and depressed at the start of school and who misses their kids terribly while they are at school – I’d have a kid who eats breakfast quickly and without issue.
It’s taken me four years, but I’m starting to learn a thing or two about this parenting business, huh?
It’s hard work.
Rocket science, really, isn’t it?
As all these thoughts were swirling in my barely-awake head, I kissed Baby Girl at the gate and turned to go. Behind me a woman arrived with two tiny children – one was in a tiny little wheelchair, the other was walking in a manner that displayed obvious physical challenges. A school support worker greeted them and walked them very slowly through the school yard to the door.
I was hit again:
I am incredibly lucky. And so are the parents of those two precious little lives.
But their lucky is presumably a helluva lot more work than my lucky.
Thank you, Universe. I’m shutting up now to start listening better…
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