Posted on September 23, 2013
The passed few weeks have flown by. My daughter started Kindergarten two weeks ago and I find myself reeling from all the change. I can only imagine how it feels for her. We’ve only had one meltdown, and by we, I mean WE. Between a new school; a new start time – I am finding myself willingly setting my own alarm to shake me from my slumber at 5:30 am; a new routine that feels so alien I have to consciously remind myself where I need to go when and what day it is so that she is wearing the right color or type of shoes; and, most importantly, a new language.
Yep, a new language. My daughter started a Japanese Immersion program here in our city. It’s part of the public school system and requires a lottery process for acceptance. Only 13% who apply make the cut. While I know we’re fortunate, I’m filled with worries.
How will she do? Will she make friends? Will Japanese really be something her little sponge-of-a-brain can absorb? Was it the right decision?
That doozy can stop me in my tracks as I hyperventilate a bit while gazing off into the distance imagining in the future when Marlie is in a therapist’s office recounting the moment her life went off track, you know…the decision to place her in a Japanese Immersion program…
Once I catch my breath, I can eventually smile as I’ve been like this since I first brought Marlie home from the hospital and started reading “The Baby Whisperer”. It was a gift from a well-meaing colleague (and is a good read), however, I can take things way too seriously. I had breast feeding issues and the backlash of all the “breast is best” slogans is such that when you can’t make enough milk for your child, you feel like a failure at the starting gate of motherhood which I believe sharpened the magnifying glass I turned on to compensate not feeling enough. More on that later and back to sleep hygiene, my 3 week old daughter couldn’t nap unless I was holding her in my arms. So I’d sit with her while she slumbered often gazing out my front picture window, watching the sunlight pass down my driveway, holding my pee, dreaming of lunch but not moving an inch because she was finally sleeping and I wouldn’t do a damn thing to interrupt that. My bladder and hunger could wait. The book mentions that if proper sleep habits aren’t started early enough, it can lead to problems later in life for your child: inability to self-soothe and sleep well through the night. I would look down at my peaceful daughter in my arms, but I wasn’t able to enjoy her sleeping as I was worried she wouldn’t learn what she needed. Even though what she needed was to be held and close to me. But the book said… the expert said…
At 3 months she started sleeping through the night on her own. Naps eventually settled and I’ve been fortunate to have the best sleeper. My how the tides changed. Life became infinitely more bearable once I relaxed and let things be.
I try to draw on that awareness now. To breathe and let this be, to go with the flow. But, you see, it wasn’t all that long ago that I got the dreaded communication that my daughter was having difficulty in pre-school. Just like there aren’t reams of info and support for mother’s unable to breast feed, the lack information available for parents navigating the unchartered territory of school issues was incredibly frustrating. For six months her father and I, newly divorced mind you, sat in parent teacher conferences trying to figure out how to help Marlie succeed in the primary classroom, the difficulty being that she wasn’t behaving consistently one way or the other. She had good days and bad days, but the expectation was consistency.
I remember cocktail hour at a friends when I cooly suggested that I’d like a handbook with all the parenting answers, you know the right decisions and choices I should make. At that moment we were transitioning pre-schools, and the decision of where to go was daunting.
I remember being looked at like I was crazy. But that sentiment of wanting to know all the answers didn’t feel crazy to me. It felt perfectly acceptable to want to know that this would be the right decision. Children are the embodiment of our choices to a certain extent. Mix in their own inherent personality and aptitude and passion, et voila your adult-to-be. And no one wants to be judged for their decisions.
Turns out moving her was the best decision we could’ve made. She found her place, was able to settle in at her own pace to the point that when preparing to leave for kindergarten, she not only could read and write, she felt a part of a community. One of many but part of the whole.
I think we all are looking for that. To find our place and feel a part of something, connected and as if we matter.
The other day her father sent me this image…
Instantly my eyes filled with tears as seeing my little one draw her self-portrait encircled with hearts… I knew it’ll be alright. It’s always alright, eventually, I just need to breathe, let go and go with the flow.