So as I wrote in my last post, LM has started full-time preschool. And I’m not doing well. I feel lost, like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with myself all day. I can’t seem to bring myself to write. In fact, this is the first time I’ve written. It’s some kind of block, I suppose. I wander around the house, looking for stuff to do—although there is actually plenty to do.
I know I shouldn’t complain — I have the luxury of not working. But even if I wanted to enjoy it, I don’t feel like I can reasonably sit around watching Food Network all day while my husband is at the office. My plan was to ramp up my freelance writing, and although I have scored a couple new gigs, they have not provided me with as much steady work as I’d hoped. Ironically, the week before LM started preschool, I got six, yes six, assignments, which prevented me from truly enjoying our last few days together. Now, nothing.
So I’ve got more to do to gain new writing opportunities. But instead of doing it, I just, well, don’t. I’m going through some kind of weird period of adjustment—or rather, trying to adjust and not doing a very good job of it. I’ve been trying to figure out why.
For a long time, my job was my identity. Then I got laid off, and “mom” became my identity. Now, I’m in some kind of in-between place in which I can’t figure out exactly who I am or what I’m doing. I have all these plans in my head, but I can’t seem to translate them into action.
I don’t want to go back to full-time work outside the home. I still want to be here at 3 pm when LM gets home from school. But in those six hours he’s gone, I want to have the motivation to write, go grocery shopping, do projects around the house, maybe even (gasp) cook (even though I’m terrible at it, now’s my chance to get better, right?). I feel pressure to do everything, and guilt that I have not been able to get my ass in gear.
I’m projecting all this onto Foggy Daddy, who I assume is mad that I’m not doing as much as I should. (There’s that word again, “should.”) He seems to understand, though, that I’m going through something and has given me time to figure it out.
Change is tough for me, I’ve discovered. I’ve never been so sad to see summer end, to see the leaves start falling. I love autumn, so it bothers me that I’m greeting it with such disdain. It doesn’t help that it’s still 85 degrees out. It’s still warm enough to swim FFS. The weather is in this in-between state, just like I am. It’s like it can’t commit, and neither can I.
To make things worse, I’ve had very little communication with LM’s preschool teacher. I don’t know if he naps, if he poops, what’s he’s been doing all day. He comes home with cute art projects and always has a smile on his face, so I think he’s enjoying it. But he doesn’t have the words to tell me what he’s actually been up to. With early intervention, in which I knew all his therapists and either participated and/or received a session note, I always knew what was going on. This is quite different.
Maybe I need to cut myself a break and allow myself the time to get used to this. After so long of wanting more time to myself, I finally have it, and now I just want my baby back. I see other three-year-olds going to preschool for three mornings a week, and I’m jealous their moms have the rest of the week to do other things with them. I’m just not ready to send him off for so long. I feel like a kindergarten mom, two years early. I’m counting the days to the Jewish holidays LM will have off in October.
I think if I was pregnant or had a new baby this situation would not be as fraught with emotion. I would still have the role of “mom” to focus on. I could justify lying around if I was pregnant or up every two hours with a newborn. I would have another child to take to mommy-and-me classes.
I know I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I still haven’t been able to pass my fertility testing — my damn lining just won’t grow. After the surgery I had in May, I had to have another procedure to get rid of what turned out to be scar tissue. After waiting six weeks to have that done, I went back into my prep cycle and my body just didn’t respond. So now I have to try it again. I honestly don’t know if it’s going to happen for us. All of these things are coming together to make life difficult at this point, when it really shouldn’t be.
Sorry for the downer post. But I can’t be the only one having a hard time transitioning to full-time school, can I? Please tell me I’m not alone!
This week LM started preschool. He had previously been in a “two’s” program, and also at a nursery program though early intervention, so he was used to being dropped off in a classroom setting. But this year is different—this is “official” preschool. It’s public (because of LM’s hearing loss he gets public special ed preschool), in a building with children of all grades who are deaf or hard of hearing. I believe it’s the best environment for him, and I took as much as they would give me: full time, 5 days a week, 8:45-2:45. Gulp. On top of all that, he’s getting “bussed” (really a guy in a minivan), so someone else is driving him, and I have to trust he will get to his destination and home safely.
It’s a lot for a mom of a newly turned three-year-old to bear.
This week was harder on me than it was on LM. His first-day transportation got messed up—the transportaiton company had the wrong number and so I never heard from them. I took LM to school myself (I wanted to walk him in and meet his teacher anyway), but then the van showed up at my house! I finally straightened things out with someone from the company, who profusely apologized and told me the driver would pick LM up that afternoon. The incident did little to instill confidence in them. And who is this driver? Would he buckle LM in right? Would he speed? Would he take the highway or the side streets? Would he get so annoyed at Sam’s crying that he’d pull over and smack him?
Calm down, I told myself.
LM seems to be doing well. He’s all smiles when he comes home, and his teacher emailed that he’s a joy to have in class. Still, my life is much changed. It occurs to me that I need to be doing more, now that I have time for writing, working out, grocery shopping and meal prep. All of a sudden I have all this time, but my worry over LM’s well-being makes it hard for me to concentrate.
Most kids going to preschool are not taking the bus and are not full time. So I’m going through what many kindergarten moms go through, and it makes me want to slow down time. I’m longing for the playdates and activities we used to do. I feel like I’m missing a limb when I go to the mall or Target without LM. For so long, I identified as a “mom,” as evidenced by the crying child attached to me for all the world to see, that it’s strange to suddenly be my own entity again. When I walk in public alone, no one knows I’m a mom. I almost feel like it’s a throwback to my infertile days, when I longed for a little baby to push in a stroller.
Here’s a taste of what my week has been like, in 20 thoughts:
- I feel like it’s my first day! Why am I so nervous?
- Did I get everything on his school list? I don’t want the teacher to start out hating me.
- He’s too young to be going off on a bus by himself!
- The bus is actually guy in a minivan. This creeps me out.
- What is he doing right this moment? (sob)
- Seriously, am I going to get a schedule or something? What the hell is he doing all day?
- There is so much I can be doing here at home that I can’t figure out what to do first.
- Let me go run some errands.
- Oh, look at that little baby in the stroller! (sob)
- Here’s a toddler in a cart. He’s not in preschool. Sam is too young for preschool all day. Why did I do this to him?
- Why did I do this to me?
- Where is the damn minivan? He’s late. Maybe they got in a car accident.
- Seriously, where are they??
- Oh they’re here.
- I wish LM could tell me what he did today. Why doesn’t the teacher write in the little book we send back and forth?
- She wrote in the book! Oh wait, it’s to ask for hearing aid batteries. But I did put in hearing aid batteries because they were on the list. She probably just didn’t see them because I put them in the same bag as his extra clothes. Great. She already thinks I’ve forgotten stuff. But I didn’t!
- I’m on snack duty first. I have no idea how this works: Is it a different snack every day? How to do I get it to school? I have to make sure to get good (a.k.a. healthy) snacks so I can impress the teacher.
- Why did his art smock get sent back home? It’s not dirty. Hm.
- I have no idea what the F I’m doing.
- I miss my baby.
I find myself singing ABBA’s “Slipping Through My Fingers” (really, it’s one of the best songs about parenting ever) while staring out the window waiting for him to get home. Luckily, LM has adjusted really well to being at school. It’s me who’s having a hard time. This parenting thing never gets easier, does it?
What were your thoughts when your kid first went off to school? Am I normal?
I looked around at the other moms’ kids, sitting quietly and eating their lunch. My child, on the other hand, was running up and down the little hill next to the picnic tables, all reckless abandon. He darted near the parking lot, near the road, before taking a header next to a pile of deer poop. At least he didn’t faceplant into it. Exhausted from chasing him around, I caught my breath as he struggled to his feet. Then he was off again.
Welcome to the life of a mom of a runner, I thought.
LM has become increasingly difficult to handle in recent weeks. I love his spirit, I really do, but it’s flat out exhausting. His boundless energy for running, running, climbing, then more running, is wearing me down. This is why people have children in their twenties. I’m too old for this sh*t.
One of my main concerns with dropping him off at school was that he would make a beeline for the door when it opened and run straight into the road. The teachers assured me that they have a system for moving from classroom to classroom, and that him running away wouldn’t happen. I’m still nervous.
I wondered if his enthusiasm for taking off was just normal toddler behavior. After talking to other parents, I don’t think it’s abnormal, exactly — but I know not all kids are like this. After witnessing LM’s antics, a friend who has two older girls and recently had a baby boy asked, “Is this what I’m in for? My girls were never like this!” So I know it’s not just me not being able to handle it. LM is a legit handful. Not to gender stereotype, but maybe it’s a boy thing.
Last weekend we went to a pig roast at our friends’ family’s house. They own a pond store, and while it’s beautifully landscaped, the property is pretty much the opposite of baby-proofed. Ponds to fall into are everywhere. Rocks on which to crack your skull open abound. Lit fire pits beckoned LM to get closer. And a whole pig roasted on top of an open flame. Perfect place for a toddler! We spent the afternoon not more than two feet from him as he darted down pathways and climbed up stone steps. After dark it was even more fun to chase him through the shadows. Although it was a fun afternoon, Foggy Daddy and I were both wiped out when we got home.
So tell me, fellow moms of runners, what do you do to keep your wild and crazy children safe? I am seriously considering a harness, detractors be damned. LM doesn’t want to hold my hand, and to be honest it’s hard for me too, because I have to do everything else with one hand. If I let go for a second, he’ll be off. And he’s fast! I think a harness would give him the illusion of freedom, but let me stop him if he tries to make a break for it. But do I really want to do deal with all the judgmental looks I’ll be sure to get? I know I shouldn’t care — my son’s safety is more important.
I don’t want to be a helicopter mom. I really don’t. But when your kid just doesn’t listen to you, and thinks it’s funny to do things that are dangerous, what are you supposed to do? I feel like I’m that mom who can’t control her kid. And the combo of having a runner and being a super worrier mom is not doing much to help my anxiety.
Sometimes I wish I had a more sedate child. But then I realize that I have to curb that way of thinking. I can’t wish for LM to be anything other than who he is. I want him to own his own identity and personality. I want him to be confident and fun. I want him to be spirited and bold and strong-willed and a force of nature.
I just want him to slow the f*ck down.
Moms of runners, how do you handle it? I need advice!