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First Day of School

Ah! The first day of school. The crisp cool air flowing through the room. The tiny tables and chairs with name cards. The cubbies and nap mats for those naps I so envy now that I am older. On Monday, Mark started his first day of PreSchool at our local elementary school.

I’ll be honest, I handled the transition much better than some would care to admit. This was surprising… extremely surprising to me. I say that, but it’s day 2 of school and I am eagerly awaiting an email, a text, or a phone call about Mark and his Mark-isms. My nerves were jumping. We had only been to the school once before to meet his teacher. Walking into his new school brought back so many memories of my days as an elementary school student. It also reminded me that I am getting older and have the times changed.

At Mark’s school, everything seems just as tiny as it did in my school. The smell of books- new and old was so familiar. The toys were similar to ones I had as a child, perhaps just a bit more updated. The fresh clean rainbow-colored square rug for storytime sat in the middle of the room. The cubbies are not lining the walls of the classroom, the way they did in my school. Instead, they are in a larger area where they keep the younger kids all together for lunch and large group activities with other classes. It is so structured, and functional. How does the saying go? The more things change, the more they stay the same? Yeah. That one.

Mark’s teacher has them on a schedule and boy do they keep to it. It is so cute that he comes home with artwork and crafts. I get emails and updates on his day and if he is working toward his goals. Since Mark has started school so much of the little boy I knew has changed. He seems older. He has grown. I don’t mean that as “I feel he’s aged 100 years since being away from me.” What I mean to say is he has become more independent, responsible, and talkative! Mark’s language has flourished in ways I never thought possible and it is truly mind-blowing. He is more social and explorative. He just seems to be more grown-up.

I think it is also important to mention that Mark is not just the youngest kid in his class. He is the youngest kid in the entire school! When his teacher called me the other day for her “fun calls”, she took some time to talk to me one on one about Mark. She mentioned that he is such a joy to have in class. He is social and fun. She mentioned that there is a type of maturity about him that is not often found in 2-year-olds. He cleans up after himself. He helps others. When he feels homesick, he grabs his photo album from the basket (he knows exactly which one is his), sits down at the table, and flips through the photos. When he is finished, he places the album back in the basket and goes to play with other children. He takes turns and shares his toys. He even has a few good friends (Shout out to Logan, Carson, and Sophia)!

Yes. “Therapist” is misspelled. The struggle of no coffee and wild 2-year-old.

The transition to preschool hasn’t been an easy one though. I mean that for both of us. There are many mornings where Mark wakes up and is definitely NOT excited for school. It isn’t until I tell him he gets to see his friends and his teacher that he starts getting pumped about it. The school takes Parent Drop off and Parent Pick Up VERY seriously. I am actually afraid of holding up the Parent Drop Off line in the mornings, so I park and walk him up to the school. Hand in hand we cross the rows of parents in a rush to get their kids to school on time. When Mark notices my hand is no longer the one in his on the way to class, he begins to cry.

This is where my struggle comes in. As a mom, you never want to see your child hurting in any way. I am a firm believer that physical wounds heal with time but emotional and mental ones never fully heal. Well, sure they heal with A LOT of therapy and maybe with some medication thrown in there if your therapist feels like you need it.

Full disclosure, I have a fear of abandonment. I am not quite sure why. I don’t think I’ve actually ever been abandoned before in my life. Nonetheless, that very real fear is there for me and I never want Mark to feel that way. Just to clarify, I do not think that dropping my son off at school is abandoning him, but when you’re 2 years old it can definitely feel that way I am sure. I just don’t like knowing that he wants me there and I CAN’T be there for him. As with all things in life, you have to learn on your own. You have to give a little space to grow quite a bit.

This transition to parenthood with a kid in school has been a learning curve for me. The first week of school, do you know how long it took me to make Mark’s lunch? 45 minutes. 45 MINUTES! Props to Pinterest moms. I will say by week 2, I shaved 20 minutes off my time and even squeezed in some coffee.

I have loved and I do mean LOVED the time I had to myself when Mark was in school. I cleaned. My house was spotless. I ran Robit (our Shark Vacuum) every day, multiple times a day. Everything was back in place. Laundry was washed, folded, and put away. Dishes were done and dinner was cooked at home. The most pleasurable experience about this entire thing (and you’re going to laugh at me for this) was the lines on the carpet from the vacuum. Little footprints and countless toys didn’t destroy them. The lines were back and I felt accomplished. The uninterrupted naps were also a win in my book.

I also found ways to spend my time wisely. Mark’s second week of school was the first week of my graduate school semester. I found myself getting loaded down with papers, projects, and assignments rather quickly. How was I supposed to adjust to all of this change so quickly? There was so much to do and so little time. I started to look at my calendar and as usual, I made a plan. I sit in the Parent Pick Up line and I read my articles or journals. I review notes and even take notes. I use that time to prepare for class in the evening or collect data for my papers. It is nice to enjoy that little bit of time for myself with no interruptions. Mark still cries when I leave him for me to go to school in the evenings. Just as it does in the morning time, his crying breaks my heart. This is my (our) “new” routine and come next week, more will be added to it as Mark starts his second soccer season.

I know this article is a little all over the place. There is no organization to it. There is nothing “unique” about it. In fact, I am sure many parents have felt the same way I do about this transition. But this is real life. These are things I’ve experienced and Mark has experienced. I wanted this blog to be about our lives, our challenges, and our transitions as we navigate life. For parents who have already experienced this, write a guide for those of us who have NO idea what we are doing. For parents who haven’t experienced this yet, here you go. Here is your guide as best as I can put it. So much change in such a short amount of time requires you to adapt or flounder (I wanted to refrain from using the word “die). So this is me… trying to adapt as best as I can. I have been told that I am just negative all the time- so this is my way of trying to see the positives and the silver lining. This is my adaptation.