This is a follow up to my post When Preschool Happens.
The first day of preschool happened. There were smiles and tears, I’ll give you two guesses as to who shed the tears.
It turns out that we’ve had a pretty eventful first month of school. Let me take you back to the very first day.
My daughter was beyond thrilled to get up and go to school. She babbled endlessly about meeting new friends and being good for the teacher. There was no mention of being sad when mommy and daddy left. We took many photos, toured her classroom, gave a big kiss and she happily ran to play with friends when it was time for us to leave.
Everything was fine until I got into the car and spontaneously burst into tears because my baby was already old enough to go to school. I think the real issue is it hit me that my time is running out to be at home with her. When she was born it seemed so far away and I always thought there could be a chance I’d stay home, if I wanted to. It felt like a small shred of hope I had held on to disappeared. It is complicated to explain but I have to assume many working moms who have done this before me understand.
Fast forward a week
My husband went out of town on a business trip and she developed her first cold. The coughing at night got so bad that she choked and had some unpleasant side effects (you know the projectile kind) which kept us both up all night. I was on a project deadline at work so I had to log in the next day. After missing 2 days of school, one sleep deprived toddler and a very stressed out mom, we made our way back to class.
Her first day back to school was quite possibly my worst day as a working mom. Since my husband was out of town during this time, my daughter became increasingly clingy with me. She begged me in the morning not to make her go to school and allow her stay home with mommy.
Once we arrived at school, it became clear to me she was not going to go into her classroom willingly. She clung to me and sobbed for at least 10 minutes. At one point I had another little boy come up to me and begin crying that he wanted his mommy and she was gripping me like a monkey. I was looking to the teachers to help me out, practically pleading with my eyes. I felt bad because I knew that her meltdown was causing other kids to meltdown too.
Finally the teacher’s aide was able to get her to sit down in a chair but when she realized I was leaving she starting yelling, kicking and screaming. The teacher’s aide was restraining her, her face was bright red and I walked out of the room. I stepped out in the hallway looking around, desperate for someone to tell me what to do. I felt lost. I felt like I had to go back in. I’ve never seen her face like that before. I have a video in my head still playing when I looked back at her and she was looking at me with desperation in her eyes.
Her teacher came into the hallway and saw me break down. I was sobbing. She promised me it would be okay and encouraged me to leave. I made my way to car and immediately called my mom (since it was 5am for my husband) and completely lost it. I was hyperventilating and felt like the worst mother on the planet. It was by the far the most horrific mom guilt I have felt to date.
15 minutes into my drive to work the school called. I thought for sure they were calling me back to get her. Instead it was one of the teacher’s aides calling to let me know she had settled down and was reading a book. It was so kind of them to go out of their way to call me and let me know that.
In the afternoon, I’ve never seen her so happy to see me! She ran into my arms and asked me if I cried all day at work without her. Now everyday that I pick her up she asks me if I cried at work. I can’t figure out if I cried in front of her and didn’t realize it or if the teacher told her. Either way, it was a day I will never forget.
For the last week or so we’ve been having smooth drop-offs. For that I am extremely thankful!
Has anyone else experienced this kind of guilt before? Do your children go into preschool without an issue?