I know other mommies survive kindergarten…


…but as of today, I’m not sure I’m going to be one of them.

I’m not one to be a drama queen, and I don’t want to be one of those annoying women who turns everything into a crisis.  I didn’t set out to make kindergarten this big of a deal (except for my boy, because for him it’s a SUPER BIG DEAL) but this whole thing has literally been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I’m weary.

It started more than six months ago, when I was late from the get-go and learned that I missed the 9-months-in-advance in-house registration.  Shortly thereafter came the realization of the full cost of kindergarten.

But no worries, I would figure it out.  I pressed on.

Spring came, and we attended open house.  Although I expected the event to be chaotic, I didn’t expect how my mama-heart would feel.  I wanted to flee and keep him in his wonderful little private school, where he’d only share a class with nine other kids and stay with teachers who knew him, loved him, and poured themselves into him.  Instead, children and parents and siblings packed themselves into classrooms that would be shared with twenty-four other friends.

But I pressed on.

June came, then July, and then August.

All the while I had various plans floating in my mind of how we would get Conlan on the bus and cared for after school.  If {insert scenario here}, then {insert prescribed solution}.  I had versions A through F completely planned out.

But I couldn’t plan.

Because I wouldn’t know the bus schedule until the week before school started.

But I pressed on.

I planned to put Conlan on the bus myself, hoped to adjust my work schedule to start later, and lined up childcare for the afternoons.  One babysitter would come to our house to get him off the bus on some days; another would care for him at her place on others.

But you can’t request alternate bus transportation to childcare sites until late October, so until then I’d use my lunch break to drop him off at the appropriate place.  “I’m so sorry,” I apologized to the people who were going to watch him.  “I so appreciate your help but I can’t give you any details on what I need until the last week of August.”  I hate not having things in place just so.  I hate even more when other peoples’ schedules are relying on mine, and there’s nothing I can do to firm it up faster.

But I pressed on.

Late August we got a letter in the mail.  Teacher meet-and-greet!  Conlan could go see his classroom and meet his teacher.  It was a fairly last-minute notice for an event that took place at 12:30 on a Thursday.

Do I need to remind you that I work full-time?  It wasn’t the most convenient time, that’s for sure.

But I made it work.  It seemed like a great way to use some vacation time.

August 25th rolled around, and I got the bus schedule.  I finalized my childcare plans and everything was set.  My work schedule was not solidified, but until it was firmed up I would just take more vacation time every morning to put Conlan on the bus.

I pressed on.

September 2nd came, and the first morning went perfectly.  We weren’t hurried, everyone got breakfast, and we waited for the bus.  Conlan met other kids in the neighborhood.  A friend from his old preschool was waving at him through the window as the bus pulled up.  He hopped on, smiled, and confidently started his adventure.

I went to work.

And, just as I promised my boy, I left work early (more vacation time) to greet him when he got off the bus.  But for whatever reason, the Tuesday afternoon traffic was a nightmare.  Cursing myself for not planning more time to drive across town, I prayed that the bus would be late.  I was ready to give myself a heart attack, envisioning the bus pulling up to our street, and Conlan seeing that there was nobody there waiting for him.  I was ready to panic.

But I made it with plenty of time to spare, and the bus was a half hour late on top of it.  He got off the bus, all smiles.  His first day was a success.

Getting on the bus the second day was a breeze.  But as we waited at the bus stop, one of the other moms said, “Is it early release today?”  “Yes it is,” I replied confidently.  Every Wednesday is early release day.  That is what they told us.  Repeatedly.

No, I don’t think so,” another mother responded.  “It’s only on Wednesdays that are part of a full five-day week.  Since Monday was a holiday, today is a normal day.”  HOW DO PEOPLE KNOW THIS?

I asked her that exact question.

I called the school office.  “I’m a little confused.  Is today early release?

Yes.  Every Wednesday is early release.”

“Are you sure?  Because other women at the bus stop seemed to think there’s no early release because it’s only a four-day week.”

“Oh.  Wait.  Let me check…um…hang on…yes, today is a regular day.  It is not early release.

Good grief.

Time to regroup, change my plans, cancel the early-release babysitter, re-adjust my work schedule, and use some more vacation time to pick my son up at the proper time.

It was the final straw.  I felt the immediate fight-or-flight response, and I wanted to flee again.  I wanted to run home and pull the covers over my head because this was becoming more than I could bear.  I didn’t want to deal with the ridiculousness that had become kindergarten.  I know that parents do this ALL. THE. TIME., but I feel like there’s some sort of club I’m not a part of or that I’m in a calculus class but missing some fundamental concept that makes everything else nonsensical and overwhelming.

Just as I felt myself heading over that cliff, I pulled myself back together.  Because parenting is not something we can choose to flee from.  I pressed on.

And I started to think about how much we do as working moms is behind the scenes.  We manage schedules, meals, and housework.  We arrange childcare.  We continually evaluate how much time we’re spending with our kids, whether it’s enough, and how to increase it if it’s not.  We do our best to manage the chaos that can take over, overwhelming and paralyzing us in the process.  We use our vacation time to shuttle kids from the bus stop to the babysitter.  We keep going until that very last straw breaks our back.

And then we keep going, hoping that our backs will magically heal without making any type of adjustment.  We need to learn that we can’t expect things to get better if we’re not willing to make some (often difficult) choices to make it so.

For me, I’m weary.  I am hopeful that this foray into the world of public education is just a process with a steep learning curve that, once I get the hang of it, will become second nature.  I’m hopeful that the scheduling uncertainty will ease and we’ll fall back into an easy, comfortable routine.  So though my back is near the point of breaking, I’ll press on.  But if this burden doesn’t ease soon, something is going to have to give.

But for now, I’ll keep working desperately behind the scenes.  I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that all Conlan sees is me smiling and waving as the bus pulls away, and that there is someone there to welcome him home and safely care for him when he returns.  He doesn’t need to see all the stress that goes into dealing with the details.

He’s only five, after all.

His only job is to be happy.

What are the biggest things that you do behind the scenes?  What’s breaking your back?  How do you plan to ease the burden?

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9 thoughts on “I know other mommies survive kindergarten…

  1. Does your school offer before and after school care? Ours does, and it’s great. They open at 6:30 am, offer age appropriate activities, feed them breakfast, and walk them to their class when school starts.
    Or is there a home daycare in your school district? Many home daycare providers open early and will make sure your child gets on the bus and will meet them at the right time. Our school lets us change bus routes to the daycare bus route as long as the daycare is located in the school boundaries.

    1. Yes, they do! And I know that some of this stress has been because of my own doing…I really want to keep him out of before & after school care and just want him to come home after school. Besides that, we only need care for like an hour a day but regardless of how much time you need, it’s like $150/wk – which I thought was ludicrous for the amount of time we’d use it. Between that and the tuition differential for full-day kindergarten, it’s more than we’ve paid for full-day private preschool & daycare combined. It’s just super expensive – like about $1000 total each month.

      And the district does provide transportation to childcare sites within the school boundaries, but they won’t do that until late October. They first determine bus routes based on home address, and once they determine if there is space on other buses they will arrange transportation to alternate sites (for childcare, or kids whose parents live separately, for example). So until then at least he’s assigned to our home bus.

      I’m going to give this is a shot for a couple of weeks and hope that it’s just the pain of the transition…but if it doesn’t get more manageable then I will definitely be looking into other options! So stressful!

  2. Sadly, your story is not occurring in a vacuum! I really think some school districts don’t give two hoots about working parents and schedule everything to best fit the school, and not the families’, needs. My son’s 6th grade orientation for parents, for instance, was at 11:30 am on a Wednesday. Yes my sister’s school district in another state has those types of meetings in the evening, which makes so much more sense!
    Take care, hang in there.

  3. I TOTALLY relate! I can never keep track of what is going on with my son’s school. I am trying to be better at that. The one positive is we live in walking distance to his school and since I have a young daughter we still have a nanny to take care of everything. It is so hard to juggle it when you just have a short amount of time you need them to be taken care of after school. You will get into a groove, its still early in the year! You are doing a great job!! 🙂

  4. Hang in there momma. Once you’ve learned the ropes you can educate us poor saps who have yet to experience the joys of public school. Oh, and if it makes you feel better, in our school district the waiting list is so ridiculously long for the before and after school program that you have to get on the waiting list a year in advance – and then HOPE that you get your kid in for the next year. She is 3 and I think about these things already.

  5. Oh my. We had our first experience with homework over the weekend (preschool class), and it nearly ruined our Saturday. I’m hoping for your sake and ours that it’s just a transitional phase. Hang in there!

  6. Ugh – I hear you! Our school is not very organized either. I’m hoping to get a better handle on how they work so I can anticipate when things happen, haha! Hope it is getting better!

  7. Oh, so sorry for your stress, and I’m sure you’re not alone. I think school admin sets schedules to accomodate themselves and teachers, often – as you’ve seen – with little regularity that makes sense. My daughter-in-law is a teacher, and I can see both sides, but the communication is often inadequate for parental planning purposes.

    I’ve scouted some of your posts and will follow as I do with several other Mom blogs, even though I’m at grandmother status :-). I enjoy a wide variety of writers and topics.

    1. Welcome! Thank you for stopping by and commenting! Yes, it’s so tough with the parent communication. I don’t expect the school to cater to my schedule, but I do expect to feel adequately informed so I can make proper arrangements for my son and pick him up on time!!! I do think part of the problem is that this is my very first time in the school system, since Conlan is my oldest, so I really feel like I’m flying blind and honestly, I don’t even know what I don’t know so I can’t ask! 🙂

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