My boys have been attending some sort of Preschool/Parent’s Day Out program for several years. Honestly, since they were a year old. At that age they would go for one day a week. For a long while I felt this odd guilt and shame about it.
Probably not for the reasons you think.
A little about me as a mom. Leaving my children in the care of people I trust is not a struggle I have. I have plenty of others, but preschool and babysitters do not make the list. And as I mature in my mothering confidence, I feel perfectly happy to say that out loud. As a result, my boys have always been great with people who are not mommy. And they are perfectly, healthily attached to me as well.
All that say, momma…you do you. No shame or judgment here if no one watched your babe til he was 3. You are much much stronger than I.
If you are like me, and the space to breathe once a week in your house, without a child around, is vital to the flourishing of your family, get on the internet and google that junk. Find a space in your budget and do what you can. It saved my sanity and I’m so grateful for a husband who understands my need for that time.
Back to Preschool.
As the boys have gotten older, they go up to 3 days a week. That’s 6 lunches, water bottles and backpacks to remember a week. And in the 5 years of doing this, I have NEVER forgotten a backpack. Not once.
Shoes? Yup. Let’s throw Daddy under the bus. Elliot went to preschool all day without shoes. I still giggle thinking about it.
But never backpacks.
Until this year.
Elliot started kindergarten at his new school this year, and Jude is in preschool at their old one. Figuring out the routine for dropping off in the mornings has been a bit of a challenge. They need to be dropped off 45 minutes apart. So our compromise is that Bret takes Elliot, Monday through Wednesday, and both boys on Thursdays.
I don’t work on Thursdays and that is MY day at home to keep our life functioning. He takes Elliot and then he and Jude go have a date a coffee shop until his drop off time. Such a gift.
Anyway, needless to say, something in my brain has not clicked over to autopilot yet. Meaning, the routine of the last 5 years is giving me fits! Let me tell you about one day. Just one. All this in one day.
It had been weeks and it was finally the day both boys would be in school and I would be home. Alone. Jude’s school started 3 weeks after Elliot’s, so he had been home with me until it was his turn.
I had been counting down and depending so much on that one day to get our life back in order. Bret took Elliot and I took Jude that day. I was 3 min away from his school, which is 20 min from our house, when I realized I did not have his backpack.
I would have said, oh well, but his lunch resides in his backpack. I whipped the car around and drove home to get it. This oversight of mine just cost me 40 minutes of my precious, precious time.
I finally got home. I could breathe. It was here. A whole 4 hours of quiet and soul care and productivity.
Until I realized I forgot Elliot’s snacks for school.
Truthfully, if it was a half-day, I’d just say to heck with it. But it was a full day, and they have two snack times. I texted my friend, who works at his school, to fish and see how important him having a snack really is. Her response? “Lunch is at 11:45, what time can you have it here?”
In other words, get your butt here with your kids snack. So I grabbed his snack, loaded up and took off to his school. Baffled at my ridiculous excuse of a school mom self.
There were several more mishaps and weird circumstances that day. It was a loss. I wasn’t bitter at all. Ahem.
Anyway, over the course of the next month, here is my scorecard:
- 2-Forgotten Backpacks
- 3-Missed Snacks
- 2-Forgotten Show n Tell Objects
- 2-Forgotten Library Book Days. The one day a week to exchange them.
- 2-Missed “Wear a ____ colored shirt day”
Y’all. This is no joke. I am a terrible “school mom”. I was so overwhelmed getting Elliot enrolled in Kindergarten. So. Many. Steps.
I have a reminder that pops up daily on my phone to make the boys a dentist appointment. Apparently, guilt tripping was coded into the reminder app, because every time it pops up, it shows how many days it’s overdue. At last pop up? 176 days overdue.
I have not even OPENED the emailed list of opportunities to volunteer from our sweet room mom. Not. Even. Opened. I’m afraid if I do, I’ll lose my mind.
I finally had to set alarms on my phone. 7:27am Elliot’s Snack(s). 8:07am Jude’s Backpack.
Know thyself, I say.
In the simple course of a week, the boys have what feels like a million things to remember. And before you judge, this momma is all about teaching independence, they have responsibilities. But there are some things that at this stage, are definitely mine.
What’s the point here, P?
Being a bad school mom has actually been a good thing for me.
Weird, huh? I’ll say it another way.
Mommy guilt is real and hard. It can fill you with unfounded shame and paralyze you in your decisions. It can cause you to fixate on things that feel life or death, or at least, monumental. When in reality, are not that big of a deal. Or maybe a deal at all.
Here are a few of mine that I have given silly amounts of my brain and time to. This is embarrassing, so please be gentle.
Silly Mom Guilt Thoughts:
- The best stainless steel water bottle. Plastic bottles will make them infertile.
- Mineral BASED sunscreen vs. Mineral Sunscreen. Because nano particles and cancer.
- The age-old organic vs. conventional guilt.
- Screen time. Enough said there.
- Naps. Will they be dumb because they didn’t get enough sleep?
- Are they reading enough?
- Am I weak because I don’t want more kids? Will they hate me when they are older, because I lose my temper? Did I ruin them in XYZ because of XYZ? Will they not love Jesus because they don’t see my read my Bible in front of them?
Man. I could write and write and write and not hit all of the areas I have felt this guilt in. And don’t get me wrong, it’s my job to critically think and make wise decisions for my children. It’s my job to feel conviction and repent for losing my temper.
But whether it’s because of Instagram, Pinterest paralysis, fear tactic news, or the fall of man, we moms carry a heavy load.
And it handicaps and handcuffs us. I don’t know about you, but I want to live in more freedom and less of a jail cell.
The funny thing is, the more times I fail at this “school mom” role, the more I feel a little less guilt. Sounds crazy, but I feel it. I laugh and embrace things a little better. I kind of wear it like a badge of honor. To a point. (Only to a point, of course!)
I’ve learned a few things from my latest dropping the ball escapades.
What being a bad school mom has taught me:
- It’s humbling.
- It reminds me I will not get it right all the time.
- I am not perfect. And I get to laugh about it.
- It adjusts my unrealistic expectations.
And on the spiritual, deeper, human side. Again. I am not perfect. Jesus is. I am not in control here. I can get all the right types of sunscreen and water bottles, and never forget a library day again, but that does not ensure that my kids will be who and what I want them to be.
I am not in control.
I have a role here. Do my job. Give my kids and myself loads of grace. Pray.
That’s it. Yes, way oversimplified? Perhaps. But in each mindless mistake I have made this year, I’m gently reminded that I put a strange amount of pressure on myself in areas that are pretty inconsequential. With unfair expectations in the areas that are consequential.
Failing at remembering backpacks and snacks is slowly freeing me up on the inside. I feel myself, less and less, being judge and jury over my mothering. More and more, I’m realizing that I am doing the best I can. I really and truly am.
Now I want to honestly evaluate the real places that matter. One for me that I need to work on? Praying for my kids. I spend a lot of time bemoaning their issues and our struggles and not nearly enough time asking God to work in them and in me. So that’s my new focus. To heck with backpacks, I’m getting on my knees.
Beyond that, in this season, I’m embracing being mediocre at the things that don’t really matter. But I’m gonna remind myself, I really am doing the best I can, and that it’s gonna be just fine.