My baby started preschool and I didn't cry!
My big boy had his first day at preschool today and I didn't cry!
In the weeks leading up to Ryan’s first day of preschool, I imagined all of the emotions I would feel and thoughts I would have after dropping him off. For one, I was certain I’d be running to my car to ball my eyes out as soon as I was out of his sight. And, I assumed I’d feel such guilt because he’d think I was abandoning him. Seriously, I laid in bed looking through his baby pictures in tears the night before. The actual day, however, went differently.
We woke up and had breakfast together like every morning. I reminded Ryan that he was starting school today. And, as he's been doing whenever I've brought up starting school in these last few weeks, he asked if Mommy and Daddy would be going too. I explained that we would be dropping him off and then picking him up later after he'd had a fun-filled day. He's never happy with that answer. I let him pick a toy to take along with him so he’d have something familiar from home. He chose one of his monster trucks. He said goodbye to his little brother and we were off.
He was a bit whiny and emotional on the drive, and then later on our walk from the car to the school’s entrance. I assumed he was anxious about the unknown. What was this place that Mommy had been talking so much about going to be like? My sweet boy was nervous...
But then, to my surprise, he walked into school like a champ!
We said hi to a few of the staff who greeted us at the door and he ran straight to an activity table and sat down to play. I was shocked… and thankful. We took photos and visited his classroom. He found a section of toys with trucks and dinosaurs which put a huge smile on his face. I handed his things off to a teacher’s assistant and it was time to say goodbye. Wait, what? I wasn't ready to go (or let go).
I hesitated, but then I looked over at him and he was happily playing. I walked over to give him a kiss and remind him that I’d be back to pick him up after lunch. He said, simply, “OK, Mommy,” and then went back to playing. I looked to the school’s Director and teachers for affirmation that his reaction was normal. He was acting a little too cool for school in my book (see what I did there? ha). I headed to the door to leave but then decided to turn back one last time and call out his name to say goodbye. I know... I wasn't supposed to turn back, but I had to make sure he was truly OK. He turned to me and said, “Bye, Mommy,” with a wave and then turned back to play again. Okaaaay, I thought. Maybe all of our conversations leading up to today worked?
I didn’t have too much time to process any of it. I had to run to my car to make it to an appointment scheduled for immediately after drop off. I think I subconsciously scheduled something right after to make the transition a little easier for me somehow or help fill in the time between drop off and pick up. After my appointment, I kept myself busy with my blog, laundry, and baby Leo until it was time to go pick up Ryan. When it was FINALLY time (felt like an eternity!) I was so excited to get to him, give him a hug, hear all about how his first day went! What did he do? What did he eat? Did he make friends? Did he like his teacher? Did he listen to his teacher?
And then, I got to the school and a little heartbreak-y moment happened. I walked in to find him crying hysterically in the Director’s arms. I threw my things down on the floor and swept him up. He gave me the warmest embrace and biggest kiss. I could sense his relief. He stopped crying right away but was still doing that super sad breathe-sniffle thing kids do after they’ve had a hard cry. You know, the thing that literally feels like someone has ripped your heart out of your chest when you hear it. He said, “See, my Mommy came to pick me up.” I held back my tears right then because I wanted to stay strong for him. Did he feel abandoned? The Director said he did great all day, played, ate his lunch, didn’t cry, and that he had literally just started crying at pickup time and it escalated when he saw me through the window walking up to the school.
We said our goodbyes to the staff and left hand in hand, ending Ryan's first day on a happy note as I let him show me around the playground and point things out on our way to the car. Side note: shout out to the amazing staff at Ryan's preschool who gave us the warmest welcome and helped make drop off a smooth process!
I told Ryan he was my big boy and I was one proud Mommy. And just like that, we made it through another milestone!
Did you cry when your baby started preschool? I have a feeling it's going to hit me hard in the coming weeks like I haven't fully faced it yet. We started slow, part-time three times a week, and I plan on waiting for him to tell me whether he wants to stay longer. Will you share your experience with this big milestone for both Mommy and baby in comments below? xo!