I would like to start out by saying that I am not a particularly weepy mother. I am a fun mother. A tall mother. A loud mother. A sarcastic mother. An impatient mother. I am all things as a mother, as I am a regular human. But I have found myself very weepy in the last week. Weepy and tired. There was that one evening when I ran out of energy somewhere between putting a new diaper on one kid, and putting a pajama top on the other. We were SO close to being ready for bedtime - ONE pajama bottom away - and I could just feel the life essence drain out of my body. I could NOT do another pair of pants. I could not do another “one foot! and the other foot!”, as my four year old stubbornly (and surely, intentionally!) sticks her foot into the same leg hole as the previous foot, and it’s just a tangled mess of pants, and I stare past her shoulders into the distance, and dream of an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, where I could be peacefully climbing an active volcano right about now. There was that other evening when I came home from daycare pick-up, walked straight into the bedroom, climbed under the covers, and decided to do all the parenting required of me from there. I was discovered by both children about two minutes into my escape. The four year old also discovered folded socks on top of a big pile of laundry under which I was hiding, and proceeded to disconnect each sock from its matching sock. The eighteen month old then saw her sister with a handful of colorful socks, and started screeching in protest. Very very loudly. She wanted socks too. I did not want socks. All I wanted was for socks to disappear, for children to disappear, and for the walls and the roof of my house to disappear. Or, maybe, I wanted ME to disappear - just to magically turn into drops of dew on the grass outside, or something equally poetic. The important part was that there would be no socks, and no children. For various I’ll-tell-you-later-if-I-don’t-die-of-boredom-first reasons, I did not know what school my freshly minted junior kindergartener was going to go to until 24 hours before she was supposed to be at said school. Short version - our home school does not have extended childcare (which we’d need because apparently a typical school day in Canada is approximately 29 minutes long, and what the hell are you supposed to do, if your work day is closer to 8-9 hours? You drop off your child, drive to get yourself a goddamn breakfast sandwich at McDonald’s, get home, re-run a load of laundry - because it was left overnight, and now smells. Then you check your work email, and you might as well get in the car and drive back, because it’s already pick-up time. I am not angry. Do I sound angry? Ok, I’m angry.) There is another school (in a neighboring town) that DOES have extended childcare, BUT they are not our home school, and thus, would not be able to confirm whether or not they have space for an out-of-area kid until school is literally scheduled to start. All of this equals months and months of uncertainty, and weeks and weeks of calling various school secretaries and leaving voicemails, and not hearing back (because WHO USES VOICEMAILS?). This brings us to last Tuesday when I dressed my oldest child, and packed her a backpack AND a lunch with two nut free (!) snacks, and took her to school - not even knowing if we had a spot at that school, OR when the first day was, OR what time classes started, OR who her teacher was, OR - at that point - what my name was. The school secretaries are helpful. The office is surprisingly empty. I hold my almost-but-not-quite-four-year-old’s hand, as I try to explain our conundrum. “So, I THINK she is registered here, but… we are not sure - we never got the confirmation.” The secretary looks up cheerily from her screen. “Yes! I have her right here! She’s in Mrs. Morton’s class!”.
Well, I’m glad ONE of us knows what’s going on.
"Want to come see the photocopier?”, the secretary asks, holding my kid’s immunization record. Of course, she does. She bounces off towards the photocopier room, not even looking over her shoulder.
“I don’t even know when to cry. Is her first day today or tomorrow?”.
“Tomorrow. So, hold your tears until then. But, honestly…”, the secretary looks over to my child, the extrovert, who just bounced off to the photocopier room with her, without so much as a glance at me… “I think she will be fine”.
“Oh, I know SHE will be fine”, I nod.
“But what about ME?”.
I’ve been trying to remember my first day of school, and I cannot. I remember snippets, images, pictures of that entire year - it’s a collage, and an incomplete one at that.
I was 7 years old.
My oldest daughter is not even four. What I’m trying to tell you is that it’s been her “first day of school” this past week, and I know she won’t remember anything. Maybe, an image here or there. First day of school is strictly for parents.
Kids are ready.
Kids don’t care.
Are WE ready?
It’s not that “I’m not ready for my baby to go to school”. I am ready for my baby to do whatever my baby is supposed to do at four years old. In Canada, four year olds go to junior kindergarten. It’s not school exactly - it’s daycare, but finally free. Two years of government funded childcare, before they actually kick off grade one. Great. I’m on board.
I’m still weepy.
I hate bureaucracy, and uncertainty, and arbitrary rules, and paperwork, and I have been drowning in all three for weeks, simply to send my child to go play with macaroni or whatever the hell it is they do in junior kindergarten, and enable me to continue working.
I try not to view crying - for children OR adults - as a sign of something being wrong. Humans often cry during transitions. This is a transition. I am a human.
It’s a mixture of happiness and sadness.
The reminiscent joy of the next chapters.
She will be fine.
I will be fine.
We will all be fine.