being a mom

Ugh, Being a Mom Is So Stupid and Painful

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Both of my girls went back to school today, and I am … not OK? I’ve been counting down to this day for weeks. We were ready, we were prepared. New backpacks and lunchboxes and supplies had been purchased. Everything was painstakingly collected and organized over the weekend, and we spent an insane amount of time picking out first day outfits last night. This morning, we woke up FAR TOO EARLY, had breakfast as a family, and got ready for school. I was not emotional, I was not melancholy, I was 100% ready for these kids to GTFO of my house. Two kids at two different schools means our first day drop off was a little different. We all went to school with my oldest, then I hung back and dad took the baby to preschool. Ouch, but OK. Sometimes being a mom means making that hard choice.

My oldest is an artist. She’s a creative little soul who lives and breathes dance. From pre-k through second grade, she was in traditional public school, which was fine! It was fine. She had amazing teachers and loved seeing her friends everyday. But she looked forward to the end of each school day when she could dance. She looked forward to auditions and jobs as an actress and model. Never complained about the workload, never lamented that she was missing out when she was on set. She liked school just fine, but she LOVES performing. So this year, we made the decision to enroll her in a full-time performing arts school. Today was her first day at a new school with all new people and a completely new way of doing things, so I know I needed to be with her this morning.

Being a mom means missing out on your baby’s first day of preschool, because your other baby needs you more.

I knew my youngest would be fine. She’s a stalwart kid, rolls with the punches in every scenario. Plus, this is her second year of pre-k, and it’s only three hours. She was stoked to have daddy drop her off and show him her classroom, since he won’t be able to do that much during the school year. To be honest, she probably did not give a single solitary shit that I wasn’t there to drop her off on her first day. She’s sort of a jerk like that, like most 4-year-olds.

But my oldest … she’s my sensitive girl. She’s tiny for her age, and the school she started at this year is mixed, 3rd-12th grade. She only has one friend there, and I knew she’d need me to walk her in and sit during first period orientation with her. At least, I thought she needed me to do that. I might not have given her enough credit, and may have projected my own worries and fears onto her. Maybe. Just a tad.

Because it’s a school for the performing arts, they had a red carpet and photographer waiting to greet each student. I walked her over, I took her picture, and we walked inside together. Then she found her friend and pretty much left me in the dust.

Being a mom means sitting in the back of the auditorium while your tiny kid makes new friends and doesn’t need you AT ALL. Being a mom means watching her walk up and get her class schedule, then pick up her heavy-ass backpack and dance bag and move toward the stairs to go to class while you try not to cry out to her. And being a mom means letting your kid do all of that, while you fight back tears and resist the urge to follow her up those big stairs, because she’s doing exactly what you raised her to do.

I sat there in that auditorium, breath caught in my throat, and watched her walk away. She was laughing and joking with her new friends, and the look on her face assured me that she would be just fine. I could feel my eyes well up and knew I was about to lose it, so I gathered my things and moved toward the exit. Every teacher stopped and hugged me on the way out, and promised me they’d take care of my baby. And I knew they would, and it made me feel better.

And, just as I was about to leave and head home to cry my eyes out, I heard it. My sweet girl’s unmistakable voice yell out, “MAMA!” And I turned around to see her run toward me.

I stood there and she barreled into me and hugged me as hard as her little arms could hug. She looked up at me and said, “I’m going to have the best day mama, thank you for finding this school for me!” Then she turned and ran up the stairs. She didn’t look back once.

Being a mom means letting them go when it’s time for them to go, and just hoping that you’ve done enough to prepare them for what lies ahead. It means choking back your own tears and swallowing your own hurt because they’re happy. And I’m happy too! I am. I am happy and sad and overwhelmed that this stage of life came so fast. Two kids in school, what the actual fuck is that even?! One kid a year from kindergarten, one kid at a school with schedules and periods where she gets to dance and learn and grow.

Being a mom means these stages come fast, and goddamn do they hurt. But it also means being proud of the job you’ve done to get them here. If your kiddos are heading back to school today or this week, I raise my glass to you. You did it! It stings.

(Image: Jayme Kennedy)