If you’ve been following my craziness for a while, you know my son is going to preschool for the first time this year. The first day wasn’t necessarily a cake walk, but I thought it would get easier.
Brady bawled the first day; the second day he bawled just the same. He couldn’t get into my arms fast enough when I picked him up, and my requests to know what he did during class were met with literal pleas to leave him alone: “I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to relax.” He is quite verbal (obviously…), so his refusal to engage in conversation was baffling. I told myself he needed more time. He would come around.
In fact, it got so that he would start crying even before we parked the car. He didn’t want to get out. One day, in place of the usual hugs and understanding, I tried a new approach: I told him to man up and dry his tears, promising that he would have fun. He tried wiping those tears, but they were falling fast and furiously, and I felt like the World’s Worst Mother. But he did it. Chin up, quivering lip, he walked into the building, constantly looking back hoping I would change my mind and say screw it! Let’s go to the park! I tried to ignore the voice in my head that was scolding me for “torturing him.” And those weren’t the only voices I kept hearing; friends, family, and random people who have opinions told me he would get used to it. I was overreacting. I just had to be patient.
If you know me, you know I don’t take kindly to anyone telling me what to do or how to feel. This
obnoxious independent streak started when I was in utero and has gotten me into trouble more times than I can count. (My poor, sweet husband…) BUT I couldn’t shake the feeling that something just wasn’t quite right for my kid. I didn’t know why a place that houses all Brady’s favorite things, reading, drawing/painting, music, learning, was eliciting such a terrible response from him. Call it stubbornness, or call it Mother’s Instinct, but I insisted we make a change.
We switched schools. The first day at his new building, I anticipated tears and trouble due to his previous experience. I prepared myself for him to cling to my leg and beg me to take him home.
Brady announced he would make, “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight new friends” and hopped out of the car with a smile. When he walked into his classroom, he didn’t even look back to say goodbye. I was the one left in tears that day, and I’m convinced now more than ever that Zach is going to have to medicate me when we drop the kids off at college.
When we picked Brady up later that afternoon, he shared every detail of the day with Zach and me: “We painted with blue paint. We had pretzels for a snack. I got a stamp for being a good listener. When I hold a juice box, I hold it by the ears, but boxes don’t really have ears! That’s silly!” I knew my boy was back. And, most importantly, I know my boy.
If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that Mother’s Instinct is no joke. At the risk of sounding cheesy, my body has changed as a result of carrying and birthing children, but my entire being has been transformed, too. I have a separate heart and brain that only functions for my kids. I know them inside and out and can predict what they are going to do and say and feel. This sometimes comes in handy for preventing public meltdowns, but I’m not always on my A-Game and apologize to any of our neighbors whose driving was impeded by this road block:
Don’t wanna be sexist here, but I think only Mommies have these built-in extensions for our kiddos. And it’s only fair; we get the stretch marks, soft bellies, and saggy boobs, so why not give us a little touch of ESP and a legitimate 6th sense?! The point is that when offered a second chance, take it. It doesn’t mean you’re raising a quitter; it doesn’t mean you balk at a challenge; it doesn’t mean you have unreasonable standards or expectations. It means you’re smart enough to know what works and what doesn’t. And if you’re in doubt, ask your Mama; she knows best!