Why a child’s first day at school is so hard on single mums.
Last week my daughter had her first day at school. Milestones like this can be hard on a single mum (and dad). It was very hard for me.
My daughter was SO excited. She was waiting for this moment for a year.
Although I obviously knew this moment was coming for some time, it hit me hard. The tears started the day before. We were at the hairdresser, because that’s what you’re supposed to do before school starts. Apparently. Then we went to the school for a meeting with her soon-to-be teacher, and I was told to WAIT OUTSIDE.
As a mum who wants to know what’s going on at all times, this was a bit of a shock for me. And a sign of what’s to come, I can already tell. But perfect chance for me to cry again whilst I sat and contemplated life of a soon to be school aged child. Where did my baby go?
My daughter came out afterwards looking happy, proud, and totally infatuated with her new teacher, which was a relief and made me very happy.
The teacher turned to me and told me how delightful my daughter was (proud mummy moment, though I’m sure she says that to all the parents) and that she was definitely ready for school. This was excellent news because I’m not sure how I would have dealt with the fall out if she had said “Please come back next year”.
I managed to completely creep the teacher out by questioning how I could get in touch with her if I needed to. Do I just wait to talk to you before or after school? Or do I call the school? Do you have an email? Maybe you should just give me your number? Or I can give you mine if you feel the need to send a few photos throughout the day like day care used to? She loves Snap Chat by the way. You could send me some snaps if that’s easier?
I’m kidding. I wasn’t that over the top, but I will say I was borderline. I creeped myself out. And then I made it worse by reassuring her that I wasn’t one of *THOSE* parents who had to know everything and would want a meeting every week. I’m pretty sure I’ve been added to the Pain in the Ass Parents List though. Oops.
Later that afternoon, my daughter and I sat and packed her bag with all the items on the list and labelled some of her things. It hit me that I hadn’t ordered the iron on labels for her clothes. But then I remembered that I didn’t even own an iron, so I guess it didn’t really matter anyway . Black permanent marker it had to be. #alreadywinningatthisschoolmumthing.
The next morning my daughter woke up (far too early) and said “Guess what Mummy? I’m starting school today!!!!” and I made her get in my bed and cuddle me for the last time before she left me FOREVER. That’s how it felt, anyway. In a few short hours I would have to say goodbye to my school girl.
One of my commitments this year is to not be late all the time. ESPECIALLY when it comes to drop offs and pick ups, and with the school being a short 15 minute walk away, there really is no excuse. So we had gotten up quite early, had breakfast, got dressed and then I carefully packed all her food for the day – crunch and sip, recess, and lunch. I have to say, we were very spoiled last year, and the years prior, when she was in day care. With a chef on site, daily food is not something I’m used to thinking about too much. And my daughter eats A LOT of food.
So, esky and school bag packed, we walked to school together hand-in-hand. I still couldn’t believe that her early childhood had passed so quickly. It was over. She was a big girl now.
We got to school early (#superstarschoolmum) and waited for some other kids to come and then everyone stood around not really knowing what to do. A few kids looked a bit sad but mostly they were happy. And then there was me who kept breaking out in a sob. My daughter just looked at me; Seriously mum? Keep it together! written all over her face. I’m already embarrassing her, and she’s not even five yet *cry*.
So why is a child’s first day at school so hard on single mums?
1. We worry about what other people are thinking of us.
A few years ago, moments like this would have made me feel super awkward. I would have been convinced that everyone was looking at me wondering Where is her husband? These days? It doesn’t even cross my mind.
2. We don’t have our child’s other parent to share the emotions with.
What I did find hard is that it’s such an emotional time and I couldn’t share this moment with her dad. We couldn’t talk about how proud we were of her together. Or how fast she has grown up. Or how adorable she looked in her school uniform, Or how nice it was to see her so happy and excited. Or our fears. And how hard it is to let go.
3. We are worried about what’s ahead for our team.
I found the whole first day really hard. Being a team of two for almost five years now, my daughter and I have a very close bond. And I am scared of the changes and the unknown.
4. We don’t know if we will have any more children.
The other thing I found really difficult is the thought that perhaps this is the only time I will get to take a child of mine to school for their first day at school. I always wanted lots of children, and the future is unknown. Perhaps I won’t meet the right person in the next few years, and perhaps I won’t ever have more children.
Generally I am a very positive person, but on this day I found it hard to not get swept away in the emotion. I know I am very lucky to have one healthy child, and there are lots of people that cannot have children. I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I truly am. And I do feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have such an amazing child that I get to raise. Whatever the Universe has in store for me, is meant to be.
I was proud that I resisted the temptation to spy through the school gates at lunch time to check on her and before I knew it, it was time to pick her up.
I am relieved the first day is over and I am getting over my little emotional roller coaster. We are slowly settling into a new routine (though I’m finding the shorter day time work hours pretty ridiculous). And I am so excited for this new chapter in my daughter’s life.
My advice – reach out and talk to family and/or friends who know and love you and your child. And deep breaths. One day at a time. We will get used to this.
Do you have a child starting school this year too? How have you coped?
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