Saturday, August 14, 2010

Beginning School and my Nervous Breakdown

by Amanda Forester

So there I was in the middle of June, I blinked, there was a strange rushing noise and a blur, and now it’s the middle of August. I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I have a strong suspicion it was a temporal anomaly, possibly hallmarking the end of the world as we know it. No worries though, I don’t want to freak anyone out. Besides, it could also be that I was abducted by aliens, which would only freak me out.

Ok, so the point? Yes, yes I have a point, I’ll get there don’t rush me; I’m still recovering from the after effects of the alien probe. Ok, the point –


My babies, my daring little pumpkins, are starting “big” school! Yes, my precious little angels will be starting elementary school. WAAAH! I’m not ready! How did this happen? I remember them being born, I think there was something about diapers, and then… strange rushing sound, blur, and now they are off to school! More temporal anomalies? Honestly, I hope NASA is looking into this!

I do remember when my babies were young and time seemed to be suspended in the abyss. I had two babies 14 months apart (can I get an “oh, you poor dear!”), and I feared I would be stuck wiping stinky bottoms for all of eternity. Yet now running across the old diaper pail in the garage makes me misty… or maybe it’s the smell making my eyes water. Whatever the reason, I sometimes long for a day with my little babies again, cuddling, napping, and playing peek-a-boo. You know, before I taught them to walk and they started running away from me.

It occurs to me that writing a book is like raising a baby. You work and work and work harder than you’ve ever done before. You fear they will NEVER grow up and be on their own, wearing shiny new covers, sitting proudly on the new release rack of Borders. And then, when you least expect it (even if you’ve been waiting 18 months for its release, it still comes as a surprise –don’t ask me why, I wager it’s more temporal anomaly stuff), you are holding your manuscript all grown up as a real live book! And as great as it is, there are always the “what ifs”. What if nobody likes my book? What if no one sits by her at lunchtime or plays with her at recess?

Ok, I’m a mess and mixing my metaphors. I did have my worries with my first book, but it went better than I expected. She made lots of friends and it was an amazing experience. Now if only I can say the same for sending my little babies out into the big world!

Any advice for a neurotic mom on how to let go? I could use some therapy here!


  1. It's something all Mom's go through. I still remember the labor pains, the dirty diapers, the first day of school. As a parent all we can do is our best. And trust in God that we did good. Kids are a wonder at fitting in and making friends. They know no strangers at that age.

    My baby turns 22 this fall, and even though life is a little rough for him right now...I'm very proud of how he turned out. Was it only last week when he started school? I know in my heart, no. But it sure feels like it.

    Just know Amanda, you are are not alone. Deep breath, stay strong, be proud. The kids will be fine.

    Oh yeah, chocolate, lots of chocolate!

  2. I never thought of this time of year as the season for letting go of the days on one's child's dependence but I can see how it would be.

    Great post, Amanda!

  3. I still have those same concerns and my "baby" is starting his senior year in high school. Right now, the college brochures are landing in the mailbox (he got a 35 on his ACT, so there are lots of them). I'm ossilating between: Yale? Yale is like a million miles from here. You can't go to Yale! AND Yale? Yale wants my baby, I'm so freakin' proud. *tears flying

    All I can advise is not to let the kiddies see you freaked out; it freaks THEM out and makes them anxious and not want to go to school. So put them on the bus or drop them off at the school or walk them to the classroom as if they are about to embark on the grandest adventures of their little lives and you are so proud of them because they are such big kids. As soon as they are out of sight, find yourself a nice quiet spot away from the easily upset and bawl your eyes out. Get it all out of your system before you go pick them up. When you see them a few long hours later, proceed to hug the dickens out of them and ask them all about their day. Which will have been wonderful and exciting, so the next day when you drop them off you'll only have to cry for twenty minutes instead of two hours. It worked for me.

    Hang in there, mom. It's a tough job, but the most rewarding one on the planet.

  4. Well, I'm still in the middle of am-I-going-to-be-stuck-wiping poopy-bottoms-the-rest-of-my-life? So a whole day with the kids at school sounds pretty good right now. But well, I don't even like to leave mine with grandma for an hour, so who am I kidding?

    As a former teacher, let me just say, your kids will be fine. They'll have fun. Don't worry and enjoy your time to yourself before all the homework starts!

  5. Funny, funny post, Amanda! Loved it! And I've been there, done that. :}

  6. Amanda - On her first day of pre-school, Twinkle toes opened the car door before the car had come to a stop, jumped out, ran across the parking lot and was angry at me when I caught her and scolded her for it. It was pretty easy, I got tired of having her tell me to leave.

    I did have a difficult time putting my youngest on the school bus for the first time at three-years-old. She still wasn't able to walk and although the school was only a couple of miles away, I had nightmares about fiery crashes with no one to pull her out. By the time she started Kindergarten, she'd already been in school a few years, so it was no big deal for either of us.

    All three of my kids couldn't wait to get to school. I choose to think they're independent, and that it's not a reflection on my parenting skills even though they all still call me Mean Mommy.

    I'm sure your two will be just fine, and remember, they'll have each other.

  7. Jessica - chocolate! Now that's my kind of advice! Thanks and best wishes for your "baby".

    Terry - I never thought I'd ever consider homeschooling but I can definitely see the appeal. I have several friends doing it with great sucess.

    MM - I love school, but the letting go - not so much!

  8. Olivia - the thought of college breaks me out in hives (congrats to your "baby" though - Yale - wow!). Thanks for your advice. I think I'll take some time off work after I drop off the kids to have my meltdown without witnesses!

    Shana- I feel your pain. I thought I'd never see the end of poopy diapers - and yet in hindsight the time moves much faster!

    Kathryn - thanks!

    Robin - my kids are similar. I get the "bye, mom" followed by the eye roll. You are my inspiration for letting kids go and watching them thrive. As for "Mean Mommy" I'm pretty sure that's MY title. Oh wait, maybe I'm the "Mommy Monster"!

  9. Going to kindergarten was nothing compared to taking my eldest to college. It was horrible! However, now that he's going back for the sixth year, it's gotten a lot easier!
    Just think of the time you'll have alone in the house to write without interruptions!

  10. Cheryl - college? Ack! The irony is that I try so hard to have my kids be independent but then when they do something on their own I totally want them back with me again. I do like the idea of having some more time to write but... I don't want to be apart! Neurotic, I know!

  11. Oh man, Amanda! I am totally bummed I missed this post yesterday! I am sitting here laughing and crying. Fabulous post.

    My "kids" are 17 and 22, but I still remember those long ago days. This week I sent my "baby" off to his last year of high school with a bit of a heart-catch in realizing that after this year he truly will be an adult. Talk about temporal anomalies! After all, I still think I am in my 20s so how could my kids be in theirs?

    And although our writing isn't quite the same as our children, there are emotional similarities to be sure.

    Thanks for a wonderful post!

  12. Sharon - yes I'm in my twenties too. Been there quite some time now! ;). I can't even imagine my kids actually leaving me. Kindergarten is bad enough. Good luck and pass the chocolate!

  13. Not to worry! Kindergarten teachers tend to be gentle, wonderful people. (I know this, because they are always shocked and appalled by the bad behavior we high school teachers so often display.) She/he will LOVE your kids!

    Kindergarten teachers also always need parent volunteers in the classroom... just sayin'...