Tuesday, August 11, 2015

the things no one told me about kindergarten...

when your child starts kindergarten, especially when it's your first child - your baby! - it's almost expected that you'll be a bit emotional….or in my case, a complete mess. ha! what can i say? i feel all the feelings all the time.

when libbi started kindergarten last year, i was so thankful for the community of friends and family that supported (and commiserated with) me. it made such a difference to know that there were other mommas missing their babies, too! it was also so comforting to hear from those who had "been there; done that" and were seeing their children flourish in upper elementary, middle school, high school, and beyond! many people were quick to offer advice or even share their own kindergarten memories, which definitely helped ease my anxious momma heart! it wasn't unusual for me to hear things like, "hang in there, momma!" or "you've got this!" there were encouraging words about how libbi would be "just fine" and even plenty of "she's going to love school" votes from friends and strangers alike. and i believed them, i truly did. but it didn't make it any easier to send my baby off.

now that we've survived that kindergarten year and libbi is starting first grade, there are still lots of emotions…. from me at least. ;) there's not that anxious feeling like i had before she started kindergarten, more like a nervous excitement. i don't feel like i'm entering into a great unknown, rather like i'm stepping into another adventure; one cautious foot at a time. i'm guessing it may always feel like that with the start of each new school year - with all my children…. because i'll never know exactly what the year will entail, but i'll at least have some idea of what to expect. 

i feel like my friends and family prepared me as best they could for what to expect with our kindergarten year, but looking back i realize there were a few things that no one told me. and not because they avoided telling me or because they were afraid i couldn't handle it. mostly because they were the kind of things that you might not know or understand until you've actually experienced them. the kind of thing that you don't know until you're actually in the midst of it and even then, you might not realize what you could have done until after you've made it through. kind of like you don't know how prepared (or unprepared) you are until catastrophe strikes, and then it's too late. you're in the eye of the storm, praying you make it through. when the dust finally settles, you look back and think, "now i know…." so here are the things that no one told me about my baby starting kindergarten….the things i can look back on and say, "now i know…." 

no one told me that i'd still be sad after her kindergarten year….
i'm not sure why, but i really believed that i'd be sad to see libbi start kindergarten, but that after we made it through that milestone, i'd be fine. i thought i might have a trace of wistfulness that day she started middle school, or a bittersweet feeling when she started high school, but i really believed the sadness wouldn't show itself each year. but, i have to admit that i still felt sad knowing that libbi was starting school last week. and even though i still felt sad, it's a different sadness for me than i felt last year. when she started kindergarten i was so sad to see my baby growing up. i was sad knowing that she was starting a new phase of her life where i was not needed as much as before. this year, i'm still sad about those things (because let's face it, i think being sad you're not needed as much is probably a recurring theme of motherhood) but i'm really just sad because i'll miss her.  it's never easy sending your children to spend the majority of their day with someone else after you've had them all to yourself day in and day out.

no one told me that she wouldn't miss me near as much as i miss her….
i know, i know -you're probably thinking, "get it together, lady!" but i've already warned you that i feel all the feelings, so throw me a bone. don't get me wrong, i'm thrilled that libbi loves school. and i'm thrilled that she is excited to go each day. i know that is not always the case for everyone- so for that, i am truly thankful. i think it would be so much harder if she didn't want to go each day and i was having to drag her out the door (we did have a few exhausting weeks like that in K and i can't imagine an entire year of it. bless you if you were/are going through that!) but there's still that small part of me that thinks, "really? you don't miss me at all while you're gone?" {hashtag selfish, crazy, mom} ha!

no one told me that kindergarten would steal my baby….
i worried so much about libbi starting kindergarten. i prayed and prayed that God would watch over my shy, timid, little five year old. she's young for her age (a summer baby like her momma) and i fretted way too much about how she'd handle the transition from her little preschool to actual "big girl" school. i was reassured time and time again that she'd be just fine and deep down, i knew she would. i expected her to grow academically throughout the year, but i was completely unprepared for the growth i saw in her self confidence and in the changes i could see in her demeanor. she started the year as my baby faced, anxious, unsure five year old. she ended the year as a snaggle-toothed, confident, spunky almost six year old. and in case no one has told you just yet - let me be the first to say that those kinds of changes- the ones you never see coming- those are the ones that take your breath away. 

no one told me that i'd be so proud i'd almost burst….
for some reason, this might have been one of the more surprising aspects of having a kindergartener to me. before i had my own kindergartener, i taught other parents kindergarteners. i was more than familiar with all of the kindergarten lessons, the curriculum, even different teaching strategies used. i was trained in many of them. i spent years teaching kids how to read and write. it was so gratifying to see children learning and knowing i had a hand in it. and yet, it still stopped me in my tracks to hear my own child read. to see my own child's hand written stories (stories, y'all!) and to hear her excitement over learning a new skill. i suddenly felt an instant connection with all those annoying parents that constantly brag on their kids and post every little accomplishment they've ever even thought about making. it took some serious restraint for me not to become one of those people. ha! i'd spent years witnessing the accomplishments of kindergarteners throughout different school years, but there are no words to describe how incredibly proud and amazed i felt at the accomplishments of my own kindergartener. 

no one told me that i'd blink and kindergarten would be over…
seriously. i know it may not feel like it right now, but before you know it your kindergartener will be in first grade. i didn't believe it either, but somehow after all my feelings and emotions and dramatics ;-) it happened. and here we are. in first grade. 
and i'm seeing my sweet girl smiling and feeling confident as she starts a new school year.  the more things change, the more they stay the same, right? i'm still so proud i could burst. and i'm still crying on the first day. so there's that. but i feel a peace in my heart knowing that she's growing and changing and coming into her own. and i feel unbelievably thankful that she still held tightly to my hand as we walked into school on the first day of first grade.  

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