My firstborn did a thing. She went to Kindergarten. As a former elementary school teacher of seven years, I daydreamed about what school would be like for her. Would she follow directions? Would she make friends and be kind to them? Would she learn to read with ease, or would it be a challenge for her? Would she be focused? Distracted? Or worse, distracting?!? I pictured all of my former students and wondered which child she would be. I have loved ALL of my students over the years, but I would be a liar if I said I didn’t hope she would be one of the “easy” ones. I crossed my fingers that she wouldn’t move her behavior card to red, or be unkind on the playground, or call out twenty-eight times a day, or chew the eraser off of her pencil instead of completing her math work.
It turns out that my girl is one of the easy ones. PHEW! She has never moved her behavior card off of green, not even once. She is consistently a positive example for her classmates, which is a dream come true for a teacher mom. BUT… it also turns out that there is one thing I never gave any thought to prior to Kindergarten starting. AFTER SCHOOL.
My baby is ON all day long. She performs. She wants so badly to please her teacher and do her very best. If you ask me, that sounds exhausting, but I get it. I was the same exact way as a student… a bit of a perfectionist, to say the least. So, low and behold the moment she hops into our car at the car rider line, she lets her hair down. I miss her all day long, but within five minutes of driving home, something strange happens to my sweet Kindergartener. If I am being honest, some days I want to send her back to school even though I have longed to see her little face all day. I find myself counting to five and taking deep breaths just so I don’t lose it. The whining, OH THE WHINING. What happened to my baby?! She was never this dramatic and overly sensitive in the years leading up to school. She was easy peasy, just like she is for her teacher. Why am I suddenly her punching bag? It feels a little unfair.
Then it occurred to me … I am her safe space. She can let her hair down with me, and while it is sometimes emotionally exhausting, what a gift she’s giving me. She trusts me. She chooses me to hold her exactly where she is, to carry her burdens, to let her experiences be what they are and not necessarily try to fix them. No performances. No people pleasing. She just needs me to listen, to care, and to validate her feelings.
It turns out that I can be that for her. I am her momma, and it is a privilege to be her comfort zone. Sometimes we are going to disappoint each other, but we can love each other and move towards each other through the disappointments, and what a beautiful thing that is. So go on, let your hair down girl. Mommy is here.