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Bittersweet back to school


Being a mother has the most insane conflicting emotions. Sometimes I feel like my terrible two year old. They scream and cry for their favorite book and when you finally find it under the bed and give it to them they launch it across the room like you've handed them a dead bug. Or when you give them the ice cream they've asked for 7 million times, but it comes with chocolate sprinkles instead of rainbow sprinkles, so they make a face like you might as well have given them poop on a stick. Even when you give a two-year-old what they want, they still might not know how to deal with what they just asked for. That's where I'm at with having 3/4 girls in school.


Stella is 2 1/2 and she only goes three days a week for 3 hours, but it is just so strange to go from having at least three kids around all the time to only the quiet 6 month old baby being home. Stella is doing a staggered start for the kids who have trouble adjusting to a three hour day, and she hasn't even had a full three hours yet, but today I found myself with an hour to go after my run and I did not know what to do with myself. She hasn't even gone a full week or the full three hours and I'm already panicking in the quiet! I can't figure out if I like it or not. There are so many mixed emotions associated with your babies becoming big kids. I don't even want to think about the day when my husband and I struggle to think of a cool enough family outing when an afternoon at the big playground doesn't cut it anymore.


A few months ago when I was wiping three sets of butts and trying to get the bright yellow breastfed baby poop out of clothes with a bar of Zote for the third time that day, it seemed like I'd never be that lucky mom with school aged kids who gets to pee and grocery shop alone. And then all of a sudden it took me by surprise and slapped me in the face. I like it, but I don't. I want to have dance parities with the baby and talk to absolutely no one, but I also have an insatiable urge to glue gun popsicle sticks while trying to explain heaven. Like I said at the start, it's all very emotionally confusing.


Change is good and blah, blah, blah, but change is hard! And some of us take longer to adjust to big changes. Some of us also might like change one day and then be a puddle of lonely tears the next day. So basically I can 100% relate to my two year old who just started school. She wants to go so badly because she's like her two big sisters, "I go ta Stella school!" Yet as we approached the school she did a 180 and said, "No Mom. I don't want to go to school. We gotta go to the store. We don't have bra-co-lis. You need to buy the bra-co-lis, we can't go to school, we need bra-co-lis!" And at the door of school that culminated into, "No Mama, noooo!!!!" As they carried her off with her little arms outstretched reaching for me with her sad doe eyes. I remained in the parking lot texting my sister asking if I could change my mind, knock on the door, and ask for her back. She appeased me by saying I could...but then other days she might have false hope I'll come for her again. So instead I called the school (still in the parking lot 15 minutes after drop off) to see if she had calmed down. She was busy playing and had already forgotten about me. I was the one who was still crying!


Mind you I do not have this problem with my second grader, Dahlia. That child has required constant stimulation since day 1. I even had to buy an outward facing Ergo for her, even though I had a perfectly good hand me down inward facing one, because she would push away from me and crane her neck to see the world around her. When we're leaving the park, a restaurant, the pool, what have you, when we have just finished a fun and exciting outing and haven't even driven away yet she always asks, "So what are we going to do next?" Bwwahhhhhhh!!!!! Child we haven't even left and you are already on what's next?! School has been the best thing that ever happened to her. To us. She seriously gets depressed if she has to stay home sick for more than a day. As a baby she despised naptime and would scream for 1 1/2 hours instead of sleeping. When she learned how to talk around 18 months and was spewing sentences at 2 she explained that she hated sleep because she was going to miss something. So that kid was made for school and thrives and I drop her off happily knowing I'm doing what best for both of us. No problems there.


Then there's her polar opposite, my just turned 5, introverted, homebody Elena who just started kindergarten and does a very long full day. She's sensitive and sweet and thinks she needs me more than school or friends. She's kind of your typical middle child. You barely feel her and she can get lost in the commotion, but every so often she has massive meltdowns to remind you she is very much there and in need of attention. A full day of kindergarten has been difficult for her, and the guilt has been hard for me. I wish it were a half day, but it's not, and it's time I stopped being her main playmate and she found some more her own size. So this is a hard change I'm sticking to for her own good. I might take the liberty of an occasional fun Friday with Mamá though...shhhhh don't tatle on me.


Each of my four girls is drastically different, so their school life has been equally unique. I've experienced the range, and they've all been full of conflicting emotions and the all too familiar mom guilt. A mother knows her children best so starting early, starting late, homeschooling, private all girls school, what have you, no one can tell you which is right for your child or family. Do what's right for your child, wipe away their (and your) tears of sadness (or joy), drink away the guilt with a latte and a much deserved truly quiet time. Some of us haven't had a quiet break in 7 years. I'll take that non microwaved second cup of coffee now, thanks.

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