Goodbye, Kindergarten…Again

My second child finished kindergarten last week. I’ll admit I was a weepy mess for several days. Just like with my first child, the end of kindergarten was harder than the beginning. The overwhelming feeling that this child is graduating into REAL SCHOOL is difficult for me as a mom.

They are so ready to progress. Mommy is clinging onto their babyhoods with both hands.

I do think that between child 1 and child 2, I graduated myself. I went from Novice School Mom to Jaded Mom with Four Kids. My fourth was born in October, right as this school year was really getting underway. As I tried to manage having a second grader, kindergartner, preschooler, and an infant, I found that I spent most of this school year in the land of Brain Fog, just trying to get everyone where they needed to be.

Going from three to four was much harder than I thought it would be; I blame this on having kids in grade school this time around.

There is just so much deemed as necessary for these little students: reading 20 minutes, logging or writing about it, math homework, spelling words, projects, field trip forms and moneys, and oh, the money for eleventy hundred other little things at school. Packing lunches. Taking snacks. I am not exactly detail-oriented, and it makes my head spin.

With my older child, Libbie, you better believe I was the queen of that reading log. We never missed a day. She turned in great projects, that she did herself, albeit with much prodding from her parental units. The crux of the year was her kindergarten end-of-the-year concert, during which all the students dress as an ocean animal of their choice. My darling daughter chose to be a blue whale. After much distress and bemoaning the fact that it is basically impossible to buy a blue whale costume that doesn’t cost $200, I ordered a blue whale float off Amazon and decided that could be her costume. When it came, it was pink. So much that for clever idea. I gave in and decided to make a costume, despite a complete lack of crafting and sewing skills. It was an awful costume…but you know what? They didn’t fail her out of kindergarten because of my poor crafting abilities.

This year, my second rodeo, I decided to take a step back and remember this detail: nobody was going to stop David from going to first grade simply because I couldn’t come on every field trip, volunteer every week, send perfect class projects, or create the ideal costume for his ocean animal choice (which was anglerfish, by the way). 

We have a Facebook group for his grade, and I felt like I could answer every post with “REALLY. STOP STRESSING.” Except I totally remember being there, two years ago. It feels like you have to get everything perfect or it will be a disaster. Your child will be disappointed, the other parents will look at you with disdain, and the teachers will talk about you behind your back. 

But you know what? My motto for everything in parenting is do what you have to do to stay sane. I’m pretty sure my kids will remember that I was a present, loving mom, who reads to them, takes them to the playground, and plays board games – not that I forgot to sign their behavior calendar that one time.

So if you are looking at the fall and realizing your sweet baby is about to enter kindergarten, I encourage you to look at it as a second-time mom would: Your child’s success does not depend on your doing ALL THE THINGS. If you WANT to, that is wonderful. I love to bake, and I would quite happily make 60 cupcakes for a birthday party. But chaperoning field trips while I try to corral my 4-year-old and handle a nursing baby? Just not going to happen right now. Participate where you want to and when you can, and just love your little child. Because before you know it, they won’t (SNIFF) be a kindergartner any more. 

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