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Back-to-School Has Been Hard for Me and My Child

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This week, my youngest started kindergarten. He’s been to preschool before, never been a big fan of it. He’s super soft and sweet, not a rough or physical boy. He takes many cues from his equally soft and sweet big sister.

Staying at home with my kids has never been easy for me. The doubts about if I’m doing it “right,” the guilt about not always being a “great” mom with crafts, snacks and story time at the ready, the insecurity of not having a separate career (or financial independence), the resentment of just about everything that comes with stay-at-home motherhood.

No, it’s not been easy.

I think I’ve been looking forward to both kids being in school full-time since they were in the womb. I had fantasies of the freedom I would have, the career I would return to, the business I would build.


Many many hours with my kids wasted while I daydreamed about being somewhere else. All the while trying to reconcile the daydreaming with a deep desire (and ability) to stay home with my kids during these years.

And now the time is here. I’m “supposed” to be gleefully brunching or looking for a paying job or otherwise “enjoying” the new freedom that both kids in school brings.

But…and there’s always a but…

When I picked up my son from his first day, he told me he saw his sister at lunch. He cried when she had to leave to go back to class. She told me she cried when she saw him cry.

I suppose I should feel proud my kids love each other so much; I’ve raised a daughter who takes care of her little brother and a raised a little boy who knows deep down his sister will be there to love and protect him when he needs it.

I guess I should be proud.

But I’m gutted.

My little boy cried when I dropped him at school the next day. Cried when his sister had to leave the lunch room again and cried last night before bed knowing he would have to go back in the morning. He cried today when I dropped him off.

How does a mother, who has an intimate relationship with fear, who understands how deep the depths of sadness can go, deal with watching her smallest child weep at the thought of being away from his family?

How does a mother deal with the worry that her child is hurting and resist the urge to walk back to school and say, “You know what? Maybe you can just stay home for another year or forever if that would take the pain away.”

I am fully capable of feeling my own fear, putting one foot in front of the other and giving fear the finger.

But watching my kid be scared and trying not to “fix” it?

No, I don’t know how to do that.

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Originally published: August 28, 2017
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