Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Adjustments

I’ve become one of those women. I’m writing this post from a comfortable armchair in the lobby of the Jewish Community Center while my daughter takes an afterschool acting class. I’m the mom with an hour to kill. How did this happen, you wonder? How did I go from the mom with a too-dependent child in her lap or clinging to her leg or in her arms to the chauffeur of Miss (mostly) Independence? It happened in a flash.

nervous-cited
just 'cited
Amelia started kindergarten two weeks ago. You were probably expecting a blog post and at least ten photos with a school bus in the background, and I was expecting to write one. But I couldn’t. It went too smoothly, she woke up early and eager, got dressed, looked adorable, jumped on the bus with a wave and a "nervous-cited" smile and came home with an ear to ear grin. I spent the day haunted by the feeling that a giant shoe was falling in slow motion.

It dropped. 

Don’t panic, I know Amelia will love kindergarten and school. Her teacher seems great, she’s always learning, and she’s getting used to her new routine. Which might be part of the problem – school IS the new routine. Two weeks in, the novelty is wearing off. We’ve entered a new phase, one with alarm clocks and rules and dress codes and homework. And she asked me not to kiss her at the bus stop anymore.

video


Until last week, I’d never met Amelia’s homeroom teacher. It struck me at curriculum night that the unfamiliar halls of the public school are where she spends the majority of her time, and I didn’t even know which classroom is hers. Or the route the school bus takes once it leaves our street. Or who drives it, or the names of the big kids on the bus and on the playground who are teaching her Taylor Swift songs and why it’s cool to sit in certain seats and not others. I took a photo of the class list on the door to help us both remember her classmates’ names. I’ll need that photo more than she will.

lifelong buddies
Last week was Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. We celebrated with friends from preschool. The girls ran into each others arms like long lost twins separated for decades, not preschool buddies who were in camp together only a few weeks ago. And then I understood. They’ve never known school without one another. They learned each others’ names while they were learning to talk. For her life so far, these ARE her lifelong friends.

And their families are our lifelong friends too, sort of. I barely remember life before Amelia, and daycare arrived on the scene soon after she did. We’ve all grown together in this parenthood thing, we’re comfortable, we know and trust one another, and now we’re separating. We have to make new mom friends at new schools.

I expected a period of adjustment for Amelia, but I didn’t expect one for me. Lately I’ve seen a few articles about a new kind of mommy war.  Not the classic working moms vs moms who stay home, but different kinds of moms judging one another – sporty mom, crafty mom, healthy mom, successful mom, etc. Will the cookies I make for the first bake sale define me for Amelia’s school career? And so much for wearing pajamas to the bus stop.

But worse than other moms judging me, I can’t stop thinking that for the first time, strangers are judging Amelia. My funny, quirky, dress-wearing, pony-loving little girl. Will kids tease her? Will the teacher understand her sense of humor? Will she make friends? Will I embarrass her? 

Right now, peeking through the window of her acting class, she seems to be doing just fine in a room full of kids I don’t think she knows. She does a mean impression of a sheep, I hope the teacher asks to hear it. 

When that other shoe dropped, it landed on me.