My baby is starting school, and I'm… okay
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My eldest (who is now and will always be my baby) is starting school in just a few weeks, and I'm… okay. I know this isn't what I'm supposed to say — it seems like I'm supposed to be some combination of nervous / devastated / anxious — but I'm not. Maybe saying this is akin to raising my hand and announcing that I'm a bad mother. Or shouting from the rooftops that I don't love my son enough. But I'm not buying into that narrative of guilt. (But maybe the mummy shaming really only comes from trolls and the internal, baseless guilt that's so common for mothers.)
I talk to other mums and I hear a lot of talk of feeling sad and nervous and scared about your eldest child starting school. But I'm not feeling any of that.
I have a lot of feelings about my son starting school. But none of them are sadness.
Don't get me wrong — I am most definitely going to cry on his first day of school. But that's mostly because I'm a crier and I'm just amazed at how quickly the last five years have just run past me (also, it has been mentioned once or twice that I can be a little dramatic — crying is certainly on brand). But I'm not sad. Not one little bit.
I haven't bought into the dream that I'll have time to myself. (I also have a 2 year old.) And I know that the hours between 9am and 3pm can disappear in smoke (or more accurately disappear into travel to and from school, a load of laundry and a trip to the grocery store with a toddler).
My overwhelming feeling is one of excitement. I'm excited for J. He's about to venture into the world by himself. Sure, he's been to kindergarten and daycare, he hasn't been by my side his whole life. But this is different. Far less supervision. Less feedback to us, his parents. He will have to follow the school rules, not rules set by me. And it will be five days a week, which is going to be a big change.
There's the potential for bullies and fall-outs with friends. Things I won't witness and may not even hear about. Things that I can't protect him from and can't help him with. But that's part of growing up. He's resilient and clever and knows right from wrong. I trust that he can make good decisions and will ask for help when he needs it.
He's going to be learning so many things. His curious mind is going to discover things I've long since forgotten. And things that I've never known. The whole world is going to open up to him.
I'm so excited that he's about to experience it all! And I'm so excited that I get to watch! Watching him learn to read and write and feed his curiosity is going to be incredibly joyful. I'm looking forward to him cementing his personality and, to paraphrase Dr Seuss, I'm really excited to watch him become "youer than you" — or should that be "himer than him" — to become more his true self.
Yes, he will be stepping onto the school carousel. The years will be labelled with grades, broken into 10 week chunks, and punctuated by dates, pre-determined to be ‘holidays’. Things will be really different. But there is going to be so much happiness and joy and excitement in it all.
My baby is growing up. And that's not a sad thing. Not at all.
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What I'm reading
A gorgeous and thoughtful little friend of J's gave this book to him for his 5th birthday to "help get him ready for starting school". This is a compilation of three Hey Jack! stories that are all about school. We've been reading these stories to get into the school mood. All of the Hey Jack! stories are about everyday obstacles that kids encounter and give a lesson in how to deal with things like "the worry monsters". Reading these books is a really great way to bring up tricky topics and talk about how we deal with problems — something that school kids need to know themselves, even if dealing with the problem is simply speaking to a parent.
This is one of my favourite kids books — if you haven't read it, you must. It's full of wisdom about how promising the future can be, but also that there are always going to be hard times too. It feels very relevant to this period of change. Because, "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose."
How are you feeling about the start of school? And what books are you reading to prepare for the change? Comment below or contact me here, I'd love to hear from you! Don't forget to subscribe at the bottom of the page to stay up to date with my book recommendations.