I Won't Cry On The First Day Of School & That's Ok
Today is the start of a new chapter. And I’m super SUPER excited. Because today, my first born is starting big school...
Last week I was chatting with a dear friend about my oldest child starting school and whoosh! Instantly I was swept up in some mothers-in-arms rescue mission. 'Don’t worry, I'll be there to mop up the tears,' my friend said like some hardened been-down-the-first-day-at-school-routine-before type of mother.
Not sure if it was nerves or the idea of being comforted at what I was perceiving to be a wholly joyous occasion I found amusing, but I emitted some sort of giggly scoff. A sciggle, if you like. Maturity kicks in, albeit in its usual delayed manner, and I hug my friend tightly, grateful and mindful that our friendship was born from the first day she became my daughter's childminder and since then been a constant at every crucial, non-crucial stage in our lives.
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So back and forth, we gently disagree. ‘Yes you’ll cry.’ ‘No I won’t you will,’ kind of thing. And regardless of who supplies the tea, tears, and hugs, we’d both be there to see my daughter set off on her first day at school. And I think no more of the strangeness of another woman crying over my child starting school, except have the odd mull-over of other friends who’d experienced varying degrees of separation anxiety at the school gates upon the first day of their child starting school.
Until yesterday, when I received a Facebook message from a friend (with no kids presently) and her gentle prophesising of how the whole first day at school event may not be as hard for my daughter as it will be for me. And knowing how excited my daughter was at the prospect of starting 'big school' I still had that moment of panic, where I wondered if during the free fall into the abyss of Motherdom, an emotional chip had somehow gotten damaged, or worse, got lost altogether.
This wasn't the first time I found myself doing a quick maternal scan to see how I was fairing on the parenting meter
This wasn't the first time I found myself doing a quick maternal scan to see how I was fairing on the parenting meter, gauging every action and emotion in this new age of Sanctimummyness where the bar gets higher and higher.
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It's exhausting. Being that square peg mother always trying to fit into that perfect round hole of how a regular mother should act and feel. We feel what we feel. I don't recall my mother crying on my first day at school. And if she did, I'd imagine they were tears of relief because back in that age of ‘go forth and multiply’ she still had an unschooled brood at home that needed her full attention.
If every child is different - then so is every mother. And if you're one of those mothers fretting because you know you won't have to be dragged kicking and screaming from the school gates on your child’s first day at school, you're not alone. We're out there. Somewhere. And shamelessly. With a list a squillion miles long as to why our eyes don't moisten and our ovaries don't produce eggs en masse at the mere thought of our child starting school.
Because for every loss is a gain. At last, we get some semblance of a former life back (if you can even recall it) before crossing that maternal threshold - where you could drink a cup of tea while it was still warm, have a shower, go to the toilet without a curious little anatomist sticking their head around the bathroom door, partake in a two minute phone conversation that doesn't becomes an all-out tug-of-war between you your child and, have a two minute conversation full stop, that doesn't include being rolled up in some catatonic ball - rocking back and forth in time to the endless tinkling of the Peppa Pig theme tune.
Think of it. Summer will be out ending guilt reigning days where you pass the iPhone just so you’ve time to gather up the scattering marbles (of your mind) from the kitchen floor. And there are other mammy-no-tears at the school gate forces at work. Preschool – that long soft landing rehearsal that makes starting big school virtually pain-free these days for both mother and child.
Attending an Educate Together school where uniforms aren't compulsory, I, unlike other mothers, won't get tripped up in that 'makes it all look very official' moment. I can’t envisage tears at the school gate today when my daughter lets go of my hand and enters a new and important stage in her life. Nor shall I force them so as to make me and other mothers feel more comfortable about our emotional idiosyncrasies.
Instead, I'll kiss my daughter, smile reassuringly, telling her like I always do, that I love her and to go have lots of fun. Then I’ll go have tea with my friend teasing each other about how when it comes to my daughter’s special occasions, I always end up the one who has to mop up the tears.
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So if I cry, it will be out of gratitude, a healthy child starting school, a warm cup of tea with a dear friend. In my book, that’s a great start to any day!
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