Obama’s speech is NOT the main thing most moms are thinking about today

Big sis’ and 2nd-grader Claire supporting Phoebe on her first day of kindergarten.
Sept. 4, 2009

As most kids are back to school today, we are slowly getting back to blogging over here at Moms Without Blogs. Today’s post is from one of our hardcore MWOBS, Kath, who I have known since we were nine years old. As I read this piece, I got tears in my eyes as I often do when reading her because her words most always resonate deeply within me. Probably because we are cut from a similar cloth.  

My second baby, Phoebe, started kindergarten last Thursday. My heart did similar and different backflips of emotions as I watched another kid of mine take her place on the kindergarten carpet in a circle of strangers knowing full well some of these strangers would become her best friends. (and if she’s lucky, one of them will be a lifelong friend like Kath is to me.) 

So the buzz du jour is certainly Obama’s speech on education to the kids of America, but over here, all I can say is I’m psyched that Kath has written about what’s really going on in most of our mama hearts today as we watch our babies take another step on their journey in the world. 

Written by Kath

It’s officially back to school time for everyone but we’ve been back to school for weeks here in sunny Arizona. I think it’s someone’s cruel joke to make kids return to school in mid-August. Picking up your children at 3 pm when the temperature exceeds 105 degrees (WITH humidity, I might add) is pure torture. 

The eve before the big “first day” I stood in the doorway of my boys’ room. I took in their over-stuffed backpacks, zippers strained from new crayons, pencils, notebooks, and glue. I saw the new tennis shoes, gleaming and clean (for the last time!) awaiting new adventures this school year. The uniforms were washed and hanging in the closets, the new socks neatly folded in the drawers. I sighed, and couldn’t help but feel, well…sad. Something was bugging me because I felt a little dread about the next day.

As we walked on campus that next morning, you could see the moms and dads had an extra spring in their step. It reminded me of that “Staples” commercial. You know the one, where the dad skips around the store to the tunes of the Christmas song “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” He’s dancing through the isles, throwing school supplies into his cart in glorious anticipation of the return to school. Yep, most parents I saw that morning had that same giddy expression on their face. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I just felt, well sad. What the heck was up with that??

In the days since that first day, I’ve tried to make some sense of this sadness. Why am I not like the other parents? I should be thrilled that my kids are back in school, why aren’t I?

I keep remembering a conversation I had with my dear Irish father after I had my first child. He told me that the world is a “magnet.” “When you’re pregnant or your child is a baby, they are as close to you as they ever will be,” he said. “But gradually, the world pulls them away, little by little, until they are grown.”

At the time, the words were sweet, but I just couldn’t comprehend them. I mean, my nipples were cracked and bleeding from being “so close” to my son. He wanted to nurse non-stop. I was longing for a little magnet pull of the world to create a little distance.

But now, I think, I get it. I’m sad this time of year, because I’m feeling that pull. School reinforces the pull of the world to me. During the summer, my kids are mine. Each and every day, I have them. We relax in our PJs, go to movies, swim, take vacations. They are all mine, and although they can sometimes get on my nerves, I truly and absolutely love it.

When school starts (and all the activities that go with it), I sort of “lose” my kids. They spend more time at school and activities than they do with me. And my heart hurts. Oh, I know, it’s good for them to go to school, to learn, to be active. They are growing up. I understand.

But my heart just can’t. Children are little for such a short amount of time. Those first 5 years go by like the blink of an eye. Then that magnet world really starts to pull.

I know that in a few months, this sadness will be gone. I will enjoy watching my children learn new things at school. My heart will burst with joy as I cheer them on at their activities. They will grow and change and develop and all will be good. 

But for today, I’ll embrace the sadness a little.

As we walked around school the first day, many of the parents asked when my daughter would be starting kindergarten.

“Next year,” I said.

“Wow! Only one more year to go!” they’d remark with that look that says “hang in there” to the other parent.

Yep, ONLY one more year to go. I’ll cherish every moment of it.

Leave a Reply