First Week of Preschool Reflections
Four years ago at this moment, I was coming to terms with the fact that I was going to be a mother. I would be lying if I said that I was excited about motherhood because I wasn’t. I was worried about not only the financial aspect, but the emotional portion. I didn’t feel equipped to nurture a child or make the right decisions for one. There were so many parenting styles and so many people pulling me in different directions about what’s best for your child.
After a lot of back and forth discussion, we made the decision to keep Sesame at home for at least the first two or three years. Initially, it was a financial decision, but it quickly became a selfish one on my part. Despite the fact that I knew I was sacrificing my career and credibility as a scholar, I still wanted to be with him as much as possible. I wasn’t ready to share my baby with the rest of the world. I wasn’t ready for him to be someone else’s responsibility beside ours. I even started considering homeschooling, but yea I’m not patient enough at all.
Sending him to school this year has been one of the hardest things for me. It might’ve been harder than childbirth, but just like childbirth it’s been so rewarding. I worried constantly about him being the only “new kid,” “Black kid, and “kid with no school experience.” I thought I might’ve held him back by keeping him so close, but I can honestly say that this week has made me feel so confident in my role as a mom.
I’ve watched my little boy walk confidently into his classroom and find his seat each morning with no problems. I’ve even had to remind him to give me a hug before I leave. I’ve watched him greet me with a huge smile and proceed to independently collect his belongings. I’ve watched him smile when talking about his new friends and his teacher even if the conversations are brief. Each day this week a teacher, parent, and even the director has stopped me to let me know his transition is going well.
So, to all new mommy friends struggling with making decisions and being overburdened with advice, I’ll tell you what my mom and MIL told me “trust your gut.” There are no hard and fast rules to parenting and what works for one family won’t work for another. Do what works best for you and your family and tweak it until it feels right.
What worked for me (and my husband) personally was cuddling and holding our baby as long as we wanted because babies are not food and they don’t spoil. We incorporated him in almost all of our daily activities and not just what everyone felt was “child-appropriate.” We made sure that he always saw one of our faces when he woke up in the morning. We transitioned to in-home date nights to keep the romance alive without making our little one feel like we were “always leaving.” We’ve always talked to him like he’s a person with feelings and we consider those feelings in our large decisions. Sometimes that means one of us sitting out of a social event because it’s nap time or because he’s worn out from other activities. We don’t silence him simply because he’s the only child in the room and we don’t allow anyone else to silence him either. This doesn’t mean he’s rude or disrespectful, but he knows that he matters and even if he has to wait a minute or five his feelings will be acknowledged. He’s a person not an accessory or a notch on our “belt of life.” We listen and learn just as much from him as he does from us.
This week helped me see that we’re doing this parenting thing right. We’re equipping him with all the skills he needs to take on the world alone one day. Plus, I think he might finally be ready for mommy and daddy to go away overnight. Now who’s baby-sitting?