September 3, 2014

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This morning we are taking our three-year-old son to preschool.

I am only mildly hysterical, pacing around the house, worried about socks and the speed at which we are eating our waffles. Austin has dismissed me from the room twice. “We don’t really need two irrational people in here.”

Well the other one is you, buddy.

For the first few years, I thought we wouldn’t send him. I thought I’d keep him home with me, find playdates when we could, and learn our ABCs on our own. I thought, “Hey! Let’s wait until Kindergarten! When he’s older! Wiser! When all his chest hairs come in!” I even laughed along with moms who said “preschool” was synonymous with “daycare” and hah-hah-hah we don’t need to do anything like that.

Over and over in parenting, I am surprised. I learn to wait and see.

Waylon already knows his ABCs. Even so, I’m not sending him to put him on an academic track to Harvard. I’m also not sending him for the babysitting or to spend more time with Eva. I’m sending him because he’s bored. Because I’m not one of those moms who does craft time or organized play time or sits down and does a puppet skit about sharing. I’m sending him because we don’t have a big backyard or a rural landscape to roam or neighbors the same age. Because he’s trapped in a house with a squeaky baby and writer mom who is always saying, “shhh–I just need five more minutes.”

I’m sending him because I care about him and believe he will thrive.

I know I am not the first blubbering parent to send my first, precious, newborn spawn to preschool and be sad about it. Wonderful parents have been leaving their wonderful babies in the care of others for hundreds of years and for the love—get it together. Still, this boy and I have been together every day for the past 3.2 years, and while it is only a few hours a week, it is a separation we are not used to.

Last night I drew a tiny heart on both our hands so he could look at it today during school and know I’m always with him; cheering him on, knowing how brave he can be. Someday I hope he looks back and thinks, “Wow, my mom was a psychopath but she did love me.”

It’s really fine.

The start of school does a lot of things to mom hearts. For some it elicits joy, for others–fear and worry. Underneath it all, we’re all just rooting for our kids (and hoping no one throws up).

Cheers to teachers who care and encourage and love on these babies from preschool to that final walk across the graduation stage.

Here we go.

A beginning.


42 thoughts on “Preschool

  1. Page

    Crying for you and with you. Sometimes I feel like parenting is just a series of heartbreaks, the good kind and the bad kind, one after another. When I went to kindergarten, my mom kissed me once on each cheek and said, “A kiss for now and a kiss for later – when you miss me.” 28 years later and I still remember that. And I don’t think she was a psychopath, so there’s that.

  2. Angela

    We have 3 little kids, ages 5, 3 and 1. Today the 5 year old starts kindergarten so, I feel for you. We do this because we know it’s best, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!

  3. Maria

    I send my 3 year old to preschool for the first time tomorrow and I couldn’t have said it better myself. So glad I’m not the only mom feeling this way!

  4. Bridget

    Thank you for this. Today is my almost three year old’s first day of preschool and I can so relate. Feeling all the feelings right along with you.

  5. Kathy

    I have a 6 year old who started 1st grade a few weeks ago and a 1.8 yr old who is in daycare. It is tough leaving them every single day, but I am always amazed at how much they enjoy it, how they grow daily, and just how much we enjoy our time together. I used to fear that someone would replace me in their lives because they spend most of the day away from me. I promise you that’s not the case. It will be good for Waylon and it will also be good for Eva and for you. Cheers to a new season.

  6. Colleen

    Last week I sent my 3.5-year-old son to preschool for the first time. My husband tells me, “It’s only twice a week! For 4 hours!” That seems like a lifetime to a mom who has rarely had a babysitter watch him. Thank you so so so much for this post — and every post. With a boy and a girl the same age as yours (not to mention a husband in medicine), every week I’m amazed at how it seems like you are reading my thoughts from across the country!

  7. Liz

    I just sent my oldest to 4k this morning and it was hard and she was nervous but I know she’ll do great and thrive. My mama heart can’t believe she is old enough for school, where in the world did the time go! Hoping Waylon and you have a great first day!!!

  8. Sara Struckman

    It will be fine! My kids have been in part-time daycare since they were babes. I just dropped my daughter off for her first day of pre-K. Easiest thing I’ve ever done :). But I had my hard days a long time ago. When she was a baby and I had to hand her off to another person. Luckily that person was amazing and caring and loving. For my kids, organized school-like settings are such a positive because I’m not the mom that organizes crafts or spends time figuring out the best way or my kid to learn. I’m the mom, like you, who tries to squeeze every minute of work out of quiet time that I can. Good luck, mama. It all gets easier!

  9. Jasna

    We’re in the same boat. My son Andrej, who is 2 years and 8 months, started preschool on September 1 and I’ve sent him for the same reasons you did. First day was fantastic and I thought “wow, what a champ”. Second day of preschool was probably the worst day of his life, he cried and my mama heart died couple of times during the one hour he was there. And when I came back to take him, he was sobbing and he came to me and told me straight away “This is so hard.” (as in “so hard being separated from you”. ). I still haven’t came back to life after those sad words killed me. However, I know him and I know he will thrive and I am looking forward to seeing his smiling face there soon when I come to pick him up.

  10. Dara

    Yay for preschool! I was a sobbing mess the first day with Tommy a few weeks ago. He also gets on a school bus and watching my 3 year old ride away on that about tore my heart out. But now? I love preschool days! He enjoys it and LOVES riding the bus. He goes to a special program that helps with his speech issues and is gone four days a week. I miss him but he’s already learning so much. He knew his letters before but now actively searches anything out with letters to show us. It’s an amazing thing, preschool :)

  11. jamie

    I sent my twins to preschool when they were 2 1/2! I am a stay at home mom but I felt like they would love it and they did. They were with me all the time and I thought they really needed to be with other kids and get the hang of being away from mama! It was only 2 days a week for 2 hours and although there were some tears at drop off sometimes, they always came out smiling and laughing. They are now 5 and are still at the same preschool and they can’t wait for school to start on Friday. I know it’s a tough decision for mamas but most kids really do thrive. I’m sure Waylon will love it :)

  12. Madeline

    Sometimes I feel like I am heartless because I felt nothing but excitement (for both Tate and I) when I signed him up for preschool. I work 30+ hours a week, most of that from home, which basically means that Daniel Tiger is raising my kid. I don’t play on the floor with him, I don’t read him books, and I definitely spend a solid portion of our time asking him to leave me alone. It makes me feel terribly guilty. I am so excited for him to socialize, to learn, and to take a break from Netflix.

    Miraculously, we had a tearless goodbye when I dropped him off & he had a smile on his face when I picked him up. Preschool FTW.

    1. Anonymous

      Not heartless. The idea that the best thing for a parent and child is to spend every waking moment together is just that–an idea. Not necessarily correct.

  13. meganstilley

    I didn’t think we would do preschool either, you know when my baby was a newborn. But we have also reached the boredom stage and it is driving me crazy. I really wish I was better with this age and more creative on things to do, but that is just not me. I love him, but I can’t keep up with him right now. So off to school he goes, three mornings a week. I am excited for him and myself.

  14. Trina Stewart

    Praying that his first day went well! I have had Kyla in daycare since she was 6 weeks old. She moved up to the 4 year old room this week, with NO NAPS!!! That’s been interesting! Falling asleep in the car and generally being grumpy. Everything changes…

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  16. jessie

    Thought of you and Waylon this morning when I left my 15 month old in the church nursery WITHOUT ME for the first time. It was only 45 minutes but felt like an eternity. I was convinced he’d be sobbing for me the whole time but the nursery workers said he was happy as a clam. Went to pick him up and he looked at me, turned around and kept playing. Like someone commented earlier – it was the good kind of heartbreak.

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