A State of Holy F*cking Mom Struggle: (aka) The First Day of School

August 15, 2017

I’d argue that the first day of school for moms is worse than for kids. Yesterday was Daughter’s first day of school. She’s a new kid. New school. New country. And I was in a State of Holy F*cking Mom Struggle. My emotional stress level was medication-worthy. I was anxious last year but it was an “our baby is starting school” different. This time, she’s the new kid and she knew it. She felt it. So I felt it.

In social situations with kids, D isn’t a jump in person (but you should see her double black diamond skills with adults.) She’s super aware, emotional, and immensely shy, and today she was painfully, obviously nervous. It was so thick I could feel it. My heart sank for her. What I wouldn’t do to take all of that pressure she has in these situations and eat it myself.


It took a while to leave her, her little hand clenching my arm the dozen times I told her that I would have to go, and finally, with a crap ton of doubt, she let me. She gave me a forced “I’ll be alright” smile before telling me to make sure I was there at noon to pick her up. I’ll be here at 11:15, I thought, Heck. I might not leave school today. (BTW – I didn’t.)

I walked out and down the hallway – Hold it together. Don’t cry. She’ll be fine. Put on your sunglasses. Avoid eye contact. I didn’t look anyone in the eye because in the wild if you look a scared animal in the eye it’ll eat your face. Same thing except today I would have swallowed someone with tears and emotion.

First day of school for moms
Don’t let the smile fool you… I’m a tea kettle of emotion.

After Son’s orientation a couple hours later, he and I walked to the cafeteria but I spotted her so I ducked fearing that seeing me, if she was calm, might make her nervous all over again. I scurried away but it was enough time to catch her wandering alone in a monsoon of kids. I watched her walk up the stairs of the jungle gym and cautiously move towards the monkey bars. Those damn monkey bars have been a personal struggle lately after she watched her {younger} brother cross with fairly decent ease and she’s been trying to master it ever since.

I’ve told D that it’s ok to fail but to keep practicing. That it’s ok to fall but not to stay down. That she shouldn’t be so hard on herself for not being able to do something immediately. That there are things her brother will be better at and things she will be better at. But today, I just thought Oh holy hell. What a terrible day to fail.

She stood at the edge and let kids go by her, rush past her. She wasn’t waiting her turn, she was waiting to not be nervous. Waiting to be ready. And as we watched (aka spied) her from the second floor above, I saw her go past the 3rd rung (her furthest to date) to the 4th.

…and then to the 5th.

“Is she gonna make it?” Husband asked anxiously excited.

There were so many kids on the platform and in the way of our view that it was hard to see if she made it.

“Did she make it?” I asked back like he hadn’t just asked the same thing, trying to peek through all the other little feet searching for hers.

By this point she would have, “If she didn’t make it onto the platform, it’s because she couldn’t find the space to get on but she totally made it all the way across!” Husband said proudly.

But I was still staring. Squinting to find her until, at last, I spotted her. She had made it. One side to the other. Platform to platform. A personal victory. A personal victory that couldn’t have come on a better day.

I had no idea how the rest of her day had gone. I didn’t know if she’d made a new friend or went mute for the day like we thought she might. But I knew she made it across. She might have fallen along the way but her feet were solidly on the other side now. And she didn’t need me to do it – she gripped each bar tightly, swung, and landed all on her own. Today, from up high in my nest, I didn’t see her fall. Today, I saw her fly.

P.S. Don’t mind me, Mom is just ugly crying and what to say to the kid that stays behind.

first day of Kindergarten

Photo Credit
David Kessler – Monkey Bars

    1. Thaaaaaaank you for the reminder that this move and living in different cultures is a good thing. It’s been a little hard and the reminder is WELL NEEDED!

    1. I have no kids yet I found myself holding back a tear when reading this. I was with you through that whole first day at school. It was like I was there, watching her in the middle of all the other kids. Trying to find where she belongs. What a scary thing. But she’s so brave and she made it through her first day at a new school, in a new country with new kids. Just think of the possibilities though. She gets to make new friends, learn new traditions, get to know a new culture with new slangs. So excited for her and for you.

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