As a mother I feel responsible for making sure that everything goes well for my children and that they have everything they need, which is mainly my availability. This is my super power, being there to always save the day, it can be something as small as finding a favorite doll or as serious as having to bandage a boo-boo. Whatever the problem may be, it’s Supermom to the rescue! I thought I had this “Supermom” gig under control until I figured out what my kryptonite was…the first day of school.
The first day of school is full of so many emotions. There is the fear of what it will be like or the uncertainty of whether or not I will like it. While these are emotions that I am sure many children feel on the first day, these are also the emotions that a Pre-K mom experiences on the first day of school. I was more anxious on my daughter’s first day of school than I was on my first day of school. First, there is the mom guilt, where you feel like the world’s worst mom because you must work instead of being with your child as they experience school for the first time. Just the idea of not being able to walk my child to class on the first day almost caused a panic attack! I wanted to be there, just in case she cries, or is afraid and wants to leave, I wanted to be there to reassure her that everything would be alright.
Then, there was the idea of transitioning from home school with Granny to a private Pre-K school with a class of about 14 kids. Yes, this is a small class but to a mother this is still terrifying. You ponder over thoughts like, will my child transition well or will this cause a major upset that leads to tantrums and defiant behavior. At the age of two years old, my daughter attended daycare for the first time and it was an awful first experience for her. As a result, we began to notice complete meltdowns at morning drop-off, every morning. By the time she turned three, we found a daycare that she loved going to and where she was learning a lot. For Pre-K, my daughter would be at a new school where she would have to meet new friends and would have a new teacher. This for me was a scary thought.
Lastly, there is just so much uncertainty. So many questions ran through my mind, such as, will she like her new school, will she make friends, will she eat her lunch, will she be on her best behavior or will she have tantrums, I had so many fears of the first day of school. Some may be considered obsessive but for me it was quite unnerving. How could what should be one of the most memorable day of my child’s life was becoming the most horrifying day of my life.
It was a conversation with my mother (who is THE supermom) that helped to ease my anxieties. My mother taught kindergarten for over 35 years so she understood my fear from two different perspectives. First, from the mom perspective, she explained that it is normal to feel anxious and guilty. She then encouraged me to have a conversation with my daughter about why I would not be able to take her on the first day of school. This would help her understand and reassure her that she would be alright. The conversation with my daughter about my absence on her first day of school gave me an overwhelming peace. She understood that Mommy has to work but that Granny will be right there to take her and pick her. We explained what her day would entail from school drop off until the time I would be at Granny’s house to pick her up.
Next, my mom, the teacher, began to explain the difficulty it causes the classroom teacher when parents come and linger around the classroom. She told me about one school year where she had a student who had a really hard time adjusting to drop off for the first few days of school. Each morning the parent would walk the student to the classroom and stay for a short while. To the parent this seemed harmless but it caused a great deal of distress for the student. My mom encouraged the parent to allow the student to walk down to the class with her classmates and the student started to adjust much better to the morning drop-off time. She encouraged me that would hinder the feelings of lingering around to see how she would do and would make for great conversation to have with my daughter after school. After heeding my mom’s advice, I found that the first day of school did not have to be a dreadful event. I discovered that what I thought was kryptonite (weakening) actually turned out to be vibranium (strengthening) for this Supermom.
Benita - Aferschool Labs Client Specialist