My baby is going to kindergarten. Cue the (totally unexpected) angst.

Just a little under six years ago, I was snuggling this:

baby Grace

On Friday that bundle of snuggles is going to kindergarten. And I’m a mess.

I’ve been talking tough for practically a year about how great it’s going to be when both my kids are in school. I thought of all the things I’d accomplish without them around. The peace and quiet I’d enjoy. The gobs of work I’d do and the projects I’d get done.

Yeah. I really thought I was going to be more than okay with this whole “my baby is going to school” thing. In fact, I was sure I would be all Braveheart-like after Grace got on the bus with her big sister. You know, whooping and hollering, “FREEEEDOM!!!!” as I sprinted from the bus stop and into my quiet house.

Instead, what am I doing? I’m scrolling though my iPhoto archives, sniffling and sometimes all-out bawling while staring at my baby’s face, wondering how six years flew by, and positively dreading my empty house.

How did this happen to me, the mom who has been craving the day when my kids were finally big enough to climb on the big yellow bus and ride off to school, leaving me to my FREEEEDOM?

Surprise! Freedom ain’t looking so great now.

Naturally, I’ve been overanalyzing why I’ve been so sad about Grace going to kindergarten. And I’ve come up with a plethora of reasons, including:

1) Grace was home with me more than Annie.

2) The baby going to school is always harder.

3) I’m feeling a little ambivalent about my career and not looking forward to days filled with work.

4) I just finished the Divergent trilogy and I’m SO MAD about how it all ended. (I mean, COME ON. Really? REALLY?)

They’re all natural reasons to be a bit mopey right now. (Though I really need to get over Divergent.)

But really, I think my angst goes a little deeper. And embarrassingly, it’s less about Grace and more about me.

Grace going to kindergarten signals a graduation of sorts – not for her, but for ME. Because – despite my frequent doubts that I would – I actually made it. I made it through those really, really, REALLY tough years of no sleep, postpartum depression, tantrums, and potty training. Eight years of it, between two kids. And it’s done. I have officially graduated from the early years of parenting.

There is no ceremony or recognition of my achievements. I didn’t get a final grade. And there sure isn’t an awesome graduation present waiting for me in the driveway. But just like when I graduated from college, there is a lot of great stuff I’m leaving behind – and an awful lot of unknown stretching out ahead of me.

I’m sad to say goodbye to playgroups and playdates. Outings to the farm to pick apples. Going to story time at the library. Snuggling on the couch and reading book after book together. Doing nothing at all on a Monday afternoon, just because we could.

I’m scared about being alone every day. I know I’ll end up being busy between work and household tasks and errands and volunteering at my kids’ schools. For some reason, though, the prospect of Monday through Friday, 8:30am – 3:30pm, often all by myself, is making me morose.

What I need to do now is exactly what I did in the weeks after college graduation: Remind myself there is no turning back, no matter how much I want to, and embrace the future.

So here goes.sending the last kid to school is graduation for mom

I will have a blast volunteering at Grace’s school and finally get to volunteer at Annie’s school, since I won’t have Grace to worry about. The girls are SO excited about me helping in their classrooms and it’s going to be awesome.

I will get to take my career in new directions, try different kinds of writing, and finally have time to continue my education through reading and maybe an online course or two.

I will be able to get the laundry and grocery shopping (mostly) done during the week so we can have more relaxing weekends as a family.

I will have time to exercise again. (Remind me of this one, okay?)

I will be able to carve out time here and there for myself. To read. To garden. To just chill.

I will get to do all these things. And more, I’m sure. And it will be great. The kids will be happy, I will be happy, and all will be well.

But tonight, I will allow myself to stare at that picture of Grace, snuggled on me in the hospital, her trademark crease between the eyebrows already developed. She looked perpetually concerned, that one, and she still gets that look when she’s puzzled or upset today.

Tomorrow, I’ll take Grace to her orientation, and I know that crease between her eyebrows won’t be there. Unlike her mama, this kid is more than ready to leave her baby years behind. She is raring to go to kindergarten and has not a single hesitation about all that lies before her. She will have a huge grin on her face that will light her way wherever she goes.

I will miss her like crazy. This I know. But I have every confidence that she’s going to shine. And I’ll give myself a little pat on the back because yes, I helped that little munchkin get where she is today. She’s ready. And she’s psyched.


Well, here’s to commencement, mamas. To all you sending off your babies to school – WE DID IT!

(And I promise I won’t judge if you ugly-cry when your baby gets on the bus. I know I will.)

Is your baby going to school this year? Are you sad or totally psyched?


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9 Replies to “My baby is going to kindergarten. Cue the (totally unexpected) angst.”

  1. I couldn’t have read this at a better time. Today, we also have Emma’s kindergarten orientation. She starts next Wednesday after Labor Day, but trust me I have run the range of emotions since registering her last spring and still going through them. Granted she is my oldest and I go through this again next year for the second and last time with Lily, but still I am a mess and never thought I would feel this way about her going to school, but still I just wish I could at the very least slow down time just for a bit. Thanks so much JD for sharing today and letting me know I am not alone right now in my feelings and emotions on this new experience for me and for Emma, too.

    1. My only child is starting kindergarten in less than two weeks and I have been dreading it since the beginning of summer. I have been a stay at home mom for five years and also been enrolled in online classes that I do from home. I am terrified how I’ll deal with this transition especially because our routine has worked and felt great thease in thease precious years. Since he has been born I had felt a great joy I never knew existed. Our days has been filled with play dates, field trips, snuggling, teaching and lazy days together-all which I had emensely enjoyed. This chapter of our life is coming to an end and it feels so overwhelming for me. I think for the first time in my life I’m experiencing deep depression over this and I’m feeling isolated with my thoughts. I’m don’t feel emotionally ready for my role to change a bit, even though I know it’s a natural stage of life and I need to find a way to deal with it because I do really want him to experience great activities,friends and learning he will receive in school. I also feel nervous about his interactions with his teacher, is she going to be kind, understanding, patient, fair and realize that he is very precious to us

  2. Aww, that photo is soooo cute. It is a nerve-wracking thing this this motherhood. I didn’t feel it when my kids went off to kindergarden, but I felt it at other times. I hate the uncertainty & the questioning of my career or my choices. And, yes, the youngest is the hardest, but don’t worry because you are not going to have all the free time you think you will. I swear, if you’re able to fit in a workout, there goes your whole day (my workouts plus shower took up 3 hr. then you have to shove lunch in your face, check FB & run to get the kids). If you’re volunteering you won’t have any free time at all. And, guess what you still get to do all the stuff you love – apple picking, reading, cuddling up – just at different times.

  3. Aw! Hugs to you! It is so much harder to send that last one off, isn’t it?? I admit, the first day that my youngest went to school was just weird. I wandered around my quiet, empty house kind of lost. Then I threw myself into volunteering until I was completely overwhelmed. It may take a while, but you will find your stride and it will all be alright!

  4. Monday was the 1st day of school for both of my older children. Son started 2nd grade and Daughter #1 started Kindergarten. I thought I would be a little sad when big sister was sitting in her new school clothes at her new desk starting a new chapter in her life. Nope. Not even a twinge around the eyes. Nothing. As I walked out of her classroom and looked back to see a half-hearted wave and uncertain smile I was literally skipping down the Kindergarten hallway humming “Another one bites the dust”!
    Two down and only one more to go!

  5. My baby went to kindergarten last year, and it was definitely exactly as you described. I am still in somewhat of a transition mode, as in, what do *I* want to do with myself? Going to the grocery store solo is definitely a GREAT perk, though! :)-Ashley

  6. JD! I am snort-dying over attributing part of your mood to Divergent. Truly, I can’t think of a better explanation 😉 Aside from that, you are nailing all the crazy mixed emotions I have been having over the start of Kindergarten too. Your incredibly HONEST take is what makes this post so comforting. xo

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