There are a lot of different kinds of moms. Super moms. Uber Moms. Working Moms. Soccer Moms. Stay at Home Moms. Self-described Slacker Moms. And as of a few weeks ago, Tiger Moms. I’m none of these things. I’m Sappy Mom.
I’m the mom who got a little choked up every time my kids outgrew their 0-3M clothes, their 3-6M clothes, or (gasp!) their 12-18M clothes … and it was time to pack them away for what would probably be the last time.
I’m the mom who told our pediatrician, when he innocently asked how things were going at my son’s three month well-baby visit, “It’s all going too fast! He’s growing up too fast!” (The panic in my voice was palpable.)
I’m the mom who cried so hard at our younger son’s first day of preschool that the teacher kindly and gently suggested I leave, as I might upset the children.
I’m the mom who occasionally substitute teaches at the kids’ old preschool … even though we no longer have children enrolled there.
(I’m also the adult who vividly remembers crying on my 10th birthday, because I didn’t want to turn “double digits.” To say 40 was bad would be an understatement. But I digress.)
So now, with our firstborn in second grade and our “baby” in kindergarten, I’m the mom who is becoming painfully aware of the very real differences between the two grades … and I’m feeling very melancholy about it.
Just this month, for example, I wistfully realized that Groundhog Day is no longer a core part of the February curriculum for second graders. While my kindergartener trotted home wearing a Groundhog Day hat, carrying a cup with a little groundhog tucked inside, and telling me all sorts of fascinating things about groundhogs (Did you know their teeth never stop growing?), my second grader came home with news of Ancient China and The Great Wall. I quickly snapped a photo of the kindergartner wearing his hat and tucked the cup away in the overstuffed drawer of school projects, figuring it was my last holiday with Punxsutawney Phil.
And on February 15, yet another day will come to remind me what a tenuous hold I have on being “a mom with little kids.”
Because my friends, Feb. 15 (assuming there are no snow days) is the 100th day of school.
Now, this is a Very Big Deal in kindergarten and, to some extent, first grade. Every day, kids are responsible for keeping track of how many days they’ve been in school, in addition to serving their duties as weather detective and calendar keeper. On the actual 100th day of school, kids at Mt. Daniel Elementary enter the school by jumping through the “0s” in a giant cut-out of the number 100 that’s set up in the lobby. They come home wearing crazy sunglasses, with the “lenses” made out of the 0s in 100. They bring in Ziploc bags bulging with 100 items to share with their classmates.
Seriously, when it comes to momentous occasions in the life of a kindergartner, this is The Big One.
(Second grade? Not so much. Don’t even know what day it is mom, and really, who cares?)
So in the week preceding my baby’s 100th day of kindergarten (which, may I please remind you, is bringing me perilously close to 100 fewer days as a mom of a kindergartner), I need to force myself to celebrate this occasion and find the good in what my heart is fiercely trying to tell me is really pretty terrible.
Okay, so. Since my baby first climbed the steps of Mt. Daniel in September, shouldering a Bakugan backpack that appeared larger than he was, he …
1) is learning to read. What used to be a jumble of letters now make up words, and while he sometimes is stumped by words with four or five letters, he knows the difference between on and one and won and won’t, and he’s pretty proud of pointing to street signs and telling me what they say.
2) has made friends out of a classroom of total strangers. 18 kids he’d never laid eyes on are now his playmates, confidantes, lunchroom partners and pals. He’s even had the strength and the maturity to say goodbye to a best friend … and in the process, has learned why it’s “summer” on the other side of the world, has discovered the joys (and limitations) of Skype, and seems to understand that it’s okay to feel sad and to cry when we miss a special friend.
3) has discovered that if he puts his shirt on backwards every morning, he will get to do a fun little routine with his teacher in the morning that involves twirling the shirt around until it’s frontwards without having to take it off. Although I wonder if she thinks I’m totally incapable of dressing my child properly, I love that he has discovered how wonderful a shared joke between two people can feel.
4) no longer accepts his older brother’s word as gospel. Although I don’t necessarily like the resulting squabbles, I like that he’s proud of what he’s learned and is willing to stand up for what he thinks is the right – or at least better – answer.
5) hasn’t quite figured out that if threw away the uneaten portion of his lunch, I’d never know … and he’d get to eat a cookie for snack rather than having to finish his lunch first.
6) no longer turns around to wave one last goodbye as he disappears around the corner on his way to his classroom. It simultaneously makes my heart want to burst with pride and break with sorrow that my baby bird is taking flight.
7) blushes when I occasionally show up at school to help out in class or eat lunch with him. I love that he’s obviously pleased to see me, yet also vaguely embarrassed that mom showed up on his turf.
8) sometimes tells me with astonishing detail what he did in school or what one of his friends told him (“Did you know that if you turn an 8 on its side, it means infinity?”) but most of the time says he doesn’t remember. I know it’s a sneak peek into his teenage years.
9) sings loudly and off key. Dances. Runs in circles for no apparent reason. He is happy.
10) sometimes cries, needs hugs, calls for us in the middle of the night, wants to play eye spy. Possesses an enviable command of Darth Vader’s moves when given a light saber, but snuggles with a giant stuffed bear every night. He is, in fact, still our baby.
This article was originally published February 9, 2011 on Patch.com.