Until this moment, I have only shared this embarrassing factoid with my husband, but as I am sitting here, reflecting on the nervous anticipation that parents feel before sending their kids to school for the first time, it seems only fair to share with fellow Moms my anxiety-fueled wardrobe malfunction on the morning of my daughter's first day of kindergarten.
On that warm Tuesday after Labor Day, I got up early, threw on a little sundress to greet the important day and found my kindergartner-to-be already downstairs. She was cool as a cucumber, dressed in the stylish tutu and leggings that she had been saving for this big day. With 45 minutes still to go until her first ride on the school bus, she had her backpack strapped on and hair perfectly arranged beneath her fashion-forward headband.
"Are you nervous, honey?" I asked expectantly.
"A little," she answered honestly. "But really, I just want to get started already!"
Funny -- to me, time was hurdling forward before my eyes and beyond my control, but to my daughter, the minutes were dragging. She was ready to go! Isn't that how it is, as we watch our babies grow into toddlers, then pre-schoolers and Kindergartners and beyond? Children approach life's milestones with such zeal. Despite anxiety over the unknown, they are ready to experience what life is all about. I love that!
The night before this big day, I pulled out a book that I had been saving all summer: The Night Before Kindergarten. It was a cute read and its message was coming true right before my eyes: I, as the Mom, was feeling a whole lot more intense emotion about the kindergarten transition than my daughter was. As we walked to the bus stop, it was plain to see that the emotional climate of our home was mirrored amongst most families. We were a bus stop of giddy parents surrounded by kids who were just going about their business -- approaching the new day with excitement but taking it all in stride. Incredible.
I remember the moments of watching my daughter bravely board the bus for her first day of school and taking a very deep breath which I then didn't fully exhale until three hours later, when she ran off the bus and jumped into my arms. There was something about the hug she gave me that told me two very important things: First, I knew that her first-day of school had been a joyful experience that filled her with confidence and pride. Second, I realized that for the first time since I began puberty, I had forgotten to put on a bra!
So that's how it going to be. My baby will gain more and more competence as she conquers major milestones and takes her world by storm. I will giddily watch it all happen and hope to keep my emotions in check to the extent that I remember the basics of getting dressed and remembering to breathe.
Signe Whitson is a national educator on bullying, crisis intervention, and child and adolescent mental health. She is the author of How to Be Angry: An Assertive Anger Expression Group Guide for Kids and Teens and Friendship & Other Weapons: Group Activities to Help Young Girls Cope with Bullying. For workshop inquiries or more information, please visit www.signewhitson.com, Follow her on Twitter @SigneWhitson and "Like" her on Facebook.