Dear kindergarten mama,
I know your heart is hurting.
You look at the little person in front of you and you wish that, more than anything, you could change the circumstances of the world in which we are living right now.
You have been preparing for this huge milestone for a long time. But never in your wildest imagination did you ever think you would have to be talking about masks, and social distancing, and a deadly virus. Or preparing to break the news to your sweet little kindergartner they won’t be joining their friends at school this year.
This was just not how things were supposed to be.
Maybe it’s your oldest heading to kindergarten this year. You are new to the school experience, and you were already a bundle of nerves thinking about this new chapter in your child’s life. It will be a huge change for both of you. You already had so many questions before the start of the year, but now the list grows longer and longer each day as you try to process what school will actually look like.
Maybe it’s your middle child heading to kindergarten this year. You have already experienced being the new kindergarten mom—walking down the school hallway, holding tightly onto a little hand, getting your child settled into their seat, and pausing for a moment at the door as you look back at them with tears in your eyes. You know the weeks before school should be filled with excitement—picking out backpacks, new clothes, and a box of shiny new crayons. You have experienced the nerves, and you are familiar with the bitter-sweetness of this moment.
But you’ve never experienced the heaviness and uncertainty that now fills your heart when you think about the start of the school year.
Maybe it’s your baby heading to kindergarten this year. You wonder if you will even get a chance to take that sacred walk with them to their very first classroom. This moment was already going to be hard enough . . . letting go of this time of your life with little ones at home . . . sending your baby off to school. Now it feels almost unbearable.
As a kindergarten mama, you can’t imagine sending 5- or 6-year-olds into an environment where they have to wear masks all day, where they can’t sit near their classmates, or giggle with their friends during circle time. They shouldn’t have to worry about how close they stand to their classmates in line, or be unable to hug their teachers. Will they even get to have recess? Will they be able to laugh and play and just be a kid? You know their teachers will go above and beyond to make things feel normal at school, but will all of the restrictions negatively affect how they feel about being there? Will they get sick? Will they make others sick unknowingly?
You wonder if distance learning is a better option, but you also worry about the consequences of keeping them out of school as well. Distance learning just isn’t the same as being in the classroom amongst their classmates. Maybe you work full-time and trying to facilitate distance learning while also holding down a full-time job seems impossible. Maybe you are a SAHM who wants or needs to get back into the workforce. Maybe you don’t have a choice but to send them, regardless of what school will look like.
Maybe none of the options your district is presenting seem all that appealing or feasible, and you just don’t know what the right answer is for your family or your child.
As the weeks of summer slip away, you wish you had more time.
More time to keep them innocent. More time before you have to make an extremely difficult decision. More time for the world to heal. But you know time is not on your side. Decisions will have to be made. The first day of school will be upon us soon. Our babies will be starting kindergarten.
It might not look anything like we had planned or hoped for. These are moments we can’t get back. And that is hard to swallow.
Our kids are resilient. They will get through this and so will we.
But it’s OK to grieve. For our kids and for ourselves.
Your heart is hurting. Mine is hurting, too.
Sending you all the love,
A fellow kindergarten mama
P.S. Things may look a little different this school year, but Kindergarten is still an exciting milestone. The highly rated book, On The First Day of Kindergarten, is the perfect read for kids who are getting ready to start school.
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