My Baby and a Backpack

A mom's thoughts on sending her "baby" to school 

September 1, 2020 | by jamie blotske

A slight chill in the air, shorter days, the sounds of football practice, and sightings of the yellow bus as it buzzes from one end of town to the other... it all adds up to one thing... back to school! 

This time of year is full of mixed emotions. The assumption being that kids are bummed to go back, and parents are over the moon about having peace and quiet at home again. Many kids are happy to ditch the freedom of summer for the consistent routine of school and are excited to see their friends and teachers. There are parents who feel sad and lonely at the prospect of back to school. Some are anxious about their child's potential behavior, performance, or social interactions. Not to mention, the added uncertainties related to COVID-19, and the changes that will bring into our school systems. So many thoughts and feelings as we head into the 2020-’21 school year.  

And then, there's a large group of parents and children about to have this experience for the first time. That's me, and I have mixed emotions, too. 

“I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always,  

As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.” ~Robert Munsch 

My stay-at-home mom position began just over four years ago. I gladly accepted the job and have been pouring my heart and soul into it ever since. We now have three little boys and never a shortage of chaos in our house! But there's also never a shortage of dirty, snotty, slobbery little boy love, either. Thinking back to where it all began, part of me is dying inside at the thought of sending our first-born out the door and into the classroom. It signifies a closing of one chapter and the opening of the next. While I look forward to meeting the person he will become, I am saddened in knowing he is no longer my baby boy. 

As the famous quote from the beloved children's book, Love you Forever, by Robert Munsch, rings true in the hearts of parents all over the world, our babies will always be our babies, but we do have to let them go and watch them grow. Someone once told me that life is a series of separations, until we reach the "final good-bye" or, as we like to call it, the "see you later" (in Heaven). How true that is! From very early on, we witness our babies needing less and less of us as they grow stronger and develop new skills. The distance between child and parent continues to expand as time goes on. When they get their driver's license, when they graduate high school, move out of the house, go to college, or begin a full-time job. When they get married and start a family, we experience different types of separations along the way. 

Preschool Bound 

With that, I am mentally and emotionally trying to prepare for that first major "separation" called preschool. This year is especially challenging with the unknowns and potential changes due to COVID-19. What was once "normal" may never be normal again, and that is something we will have to navigate with our 4-year-old. 

There is a lot of joy in this next chapter, too. It isn't all heartbreak. One of the most rewarding things as a parent is to watch our children become the person they were created to be. Seeing the light in their eyes when they learn something new, engaging in conversation about their passions, and sharing common interests are the things we, as parents, look forward to. 

Grab the Tissues 

For those of you that have gone ahead of us, an encouraging word, a hug or a listening ear is just the kind of comfort we need right now. And to those of you who are taking the leap from home to school, as I am, our "babies" are going to do awesome! They will be in the best of hands. Also, know that it's ok to cry. Trust me; I will be a blubbering mess on that day. 

So if you see a parent strolling the grocery aisles with red, puffy eyes and tissues falling out of their pockets on that first day of school, give them a smile and that little nod of the head that says, "I know it hurts. But you're doing a great job, and everything is going to be just fine.

Originally printed in the September 2020 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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