This time of year can be absolutely overwhelming for mothers. The idea of sending your child off to school, maybe for the first time, maybe for the last time, can conjure up feelings of fear and anxiety that require some serious attention. Then there's the feeling of relief for some parents. They had no idea what to do with their children while they were on summer break and need the support of the school for consistency in their lives. Sending your child off to school in a day and age where it may be dangerous or not the best situation makes the decision even harder.
When my daughter was younger, I homeschooled her until first grade. She was not a fan of crowds, loud noises, or intense energy from other people. At the time, the small Montessori school I created was the perfect environment for her to start her education in. She enjoyed school and the freedom that a Montessori program enabled her to have. I remember she would work for almost two hours consistently on math as a 4 year old. She realized early on that if you could count to ten, you could count to a thousand, and she did. It was incredible how advanced she was before going off to first grade all because I was able to give her the freedom to focus on math for longer periods of time.
We made the decision to send her to our local elementary school with her friends so that she could socialize with other children and experience school without mom. Sometimes she was excited about this and sometimes she wasn't.
The first day of school came quickly after a summer of fun. Imagine for a moment, a beautiful morning, the sun is shining and we are standing at the bus stop with three other students. My daughter is laughing and giggling with her friends that she has known since she was two years old. Here comes the bus. We watch it stop a little ways up the road to pick up a a child at the neighbors. I noticed a change in my daughter as quickly as a child can say "no". She hid behind me and grabbed ahold of my body as if the yellow bus coming towards us was a giant yellow T-rex that would most definitely eat her alive. In hind sight, I believe the mere sound of the bus was what concerned her. She never liked loud noises. The brakes hissing and screeching surely didn't help. The school bus stops in front of us, the door opens, and our friendly bus driver says, "Good morning! Everyone ready to go to school?"
If I try to best describe the next two minutes of my life in one word, the word would probably be "traumatizing". My daughter would not get on the bus without me, but when I tried to get off the bus she attached herself to me like a cat gripping a log at the top of a raging river. The bus driver tried to help and said he would hold her until I got out the door. She was throwing a tantrum at this point and I was crying. It was not what I had planned for our first day of second grade. She was only 8 years old. I've never had to leave her so upset before and it took everything I had to walk off the bus. The bus driver shut the door and I stood there trying to smile so that she wouldn't see my tears. I look back and have to laugh at how awful and hysterical the whole situation was. She got dropped off a mere three hours later. It was a half a day. She said she had fun, but didn't want to go back. It took us the next three days of the same pattern before she was ok with this new normal. Our daughter is such an independent person and seems to march to the beat of her own drum. I think mothers have a special place for their daughters - especially when they never thought they would get to have one! She has passion and grit, and is such a hard working young woman. She prefers having control in her life - control to make her own decisions.
Someone once told me that I am a control freak. I never thought I was, but maybe I am... Maybe I need to have control in my life and that is why it is so hard for me to imagine the stress I created by taking my own daughter's away from her. We all believe school is supposed to be a wonderful experience for our children because they are learning how to be, not just learning information. They are learning about social norms, communication, and non-verbal communication. Learning environments must be set up for all different types of children, not just the majority of children. The interesting thing is that every place is a learning environment. Our homes first, then nature, then schools.
A wiser mother might have been able to resist taking the school bus drama personally. I thought I scarred my daughter for life that day. I do believe a part of us never wants to emotionally damage our children in any way shape or form, and mothering is such a slippery slope of firm, fair and friendly balanced with pure, unadulterated love. Maybe it's different for fathers, but one thing I know for sure, as a mother, we can only do what our instincts provide for us at the time. We have to give ourselves the grace to know we acted out of love, and that's what makes all the difference.