It’s here. Back to School madness is here, and for the first time it applies to me! Me?! I’ve entered a new phase of motherhood. He’s officially a little boy, and he’s off to school! It’s making my stomach churn.
I know part of me should be jumping for joy. He’s always been home with me. For four years he’s never been to daycare. We made the decision early on that my husband and I would work opposite shifts due to the expense of childcare. We have limited family nearby. The only real time he’s been with babysitters was if I was attending a birth. Of course, I appreciate this time with him, but that’s a double-edged sword because we need our time apart, too. So I should be excited about a break four mornings a week. But…
I’ll be honest, if I could afford for someone else to homeschool him I would in a heart beat. I do not have the time or patience for the commitment it takes, but I love the idea. I’m glad I recognize that and don’t push us into it. Maybe in the future, but it’s not right for now. I adore some of the more natural, less structured options in the Iowa City area. But since we don’t live in town, those are less user-friendly. Unfortunately, finances also play a part for many families. So the next option is entering our small town preschool.
Personally, I’m not excited about being on someone else’s schedule and turf. My husband works long hours, and my job is anything but predictable. So fitting our life into a school district’s schedule doesn’t exactly appeal to me. I do secretly wish for the flexibility of homeschooling. When we visited for preschool round-up my first thought upon entering was, “Well isn’t this a tiny, colorful little prison.” Of course, that may have something to do with recently starting Orange is the New Black. I just hope the principal doesn’t look like Mr. Caputo.
However, he does seem excited about school. We’ve joked that we could have left him at preschool round-up, and he would’ve been fine without us. He’s always been interested in anything with wheels and would often ask about the big kids getting off the school bus while we were on our afternoon walks. When learning numbers and letters he’d mention knowing them once he’s in school. And suddenly, it’s really clicked for him despite not stepping a foot in the classroom yet. We’ve packed his new backpack with a few school goodies to make it special for him (even though his supply list consists only of a bag and change of clothes). We’re even counting down the days together before school starts and filling the calendar with special things to do. I just hope he’s still excited when we leave him in the classroom the first morning.
Maybe part of the worry is that there’s no undoing this new phase. He’s entering school and that won’t end for another eighteen years or so. That means I’ll be almost 50. My stomach just churned again. Note to self: we need to add to the college saving account.
He’s not simply going to a babysitter’s house, which was hard enough the first couple times. He is going to an institution where I have to trust they will actively and thoughtfully take our place as his guardian each morning. He is going out into the WORLD. I feel like I should be jumping for joy for some time to sit in quiet and to work, or even clean, in peace. But I can’t help feeling afraid for his whole life in front of him. I will not always be able to protect him. There will be chunks of his life that I won’t be there for, and this is the start of a whole new frontier. I want to give advice for the other new school moms, but I don’t have much to offer. I have mixed emotions about my baby growing up. For those of you in the same boat, at least we’re not alone in this new voyage!