My new morning routine includes escorting our 4 year old to her Pre-K classroom.
The whole “escorting” activity is for my emotional well-being. The 4 year old? She’s got this.
On Day 2, she really didn’t need me there, but she liked showing me how she knew how to get to the bathroom, and where she knew to put her lunchbox, and where she knew to hang her backpack.
I was there, for – you know, my benefit.
I mark this independence as one positive by-product of child care. As we start each day, off to our own individual destinations of work, day care, and big kid school, there is comfort in knowing that we each have a meaningful niche. No doubt, developing, embracing, adapting to that niche takes time and support.
Like this morning. I watched as a fellow boy student clung to his mom in a pre-K classroom. There’s something funny about little boys – fearlessly leaping from tall buildings one minute and clinging to mom’s neck the next.
I wanted to reach out and comfort that mom as she walked away, looking back wistfully, hearing the wail of her son. I wanted to tell her it that it does get better, her son is going to have a blast, and she and he will find a niche and routine. I wanted to hug her. Or buy her a coffee, or high five her. I just wanted to do something.
You know how if you see one person yawn, suddenly you yawn too? That’s me and crying. Really, all it takes is one tear, and I am boo-hooing right with you. So, honestly, it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know this women that held me back. It was the simple fact that if I saw her tearing up, we may as well sit Indian style in the hallway together balling our eyes out.
I’ve decided: there’s a sisterhood of the crying mommas. We may not physically cry together, but our hearts are united. To the mom of the crying pre-K kid: I’m not sure yet how I can help, but I’ve got your back.
“I am so not a crier.” I thought. And then God laughed.
Maybe I am just pro-active, and like to stay ahead of things. Maybe my theory on motherhood and vulnerability keeps proving true: Children, at all different ages, have a freakish way of exposing pockets of vulnerability you didn’t even know existed.
I didn’t even make it THROUGH THE FIRST DAY of pre-K. Our daughter had a “pre-K reception” this morning, a chance to meet the teachers and become familiar with the expectations that await her classroom of 22 four year olds later this Summer. There was information and songs and story time. Right around bullet #3, I started sniffling and dabbing at the eyeliner starting to run down my cheeks. My teacher husband couldn’t make eye contact with me, maybe because he didn’t know what to do with me, or maybe because he would lose it too.
What in the world?
The future pre-K students got bubbles and pencils and tissues.
It turns out the tissues were for me.
After sitting through the songs and stories, I managed to compose myself. By the time our daughter found her way back to her seat, I had almost made it look as though I had this “sending your kid into the world” thing down.
“Mom?” she asked, concerned.
Oh, man, now I had to explain why Mommy was crying at her big new special school that we have been talking up for a long time now. (Adults can be so confusing!)
I took a breath, ready to explain. Before I could launch into it, she summarized it well:
“I just want my tissues back and to start school now.”