(This was originally published at Her View From Home)
My oldest started kindergarten yesterday. I was a mess of hot tears and binge eating cookies.
Cliché. But it did dart by so fast. The time. I can’t say I loved every minute while in the moment, but looking back- I’d do it all again without a second glance.
Lazy mornings watching Curious George get into trouble and the Man with the Yellow Hat come to the rescue. Building Lego towers and tearing them down. Impromptu visits to the zoo just so we could spy the baby gorillas and see if the bears were out playing.
Lunches at our local diner–the Tellico Junction. Where he excitedly retrieved gumballs from the machine and practiced his small talk with the farmers who would always slyly slip him a quarter so he could get an extra candy.
Reading “let the wild rumpus start” a million times over until he would drift off to nap time. Being bitten in Wal-Mart because he was two and that’s what two-year-olds do best.
Yes. In a heartbeat I’d do it all again.
I used to fret about my sons unscheduled life– where he stayed up late so he could wrestle and snuggle with late-night working daddy. And then, of course, woke up late the next morning—completely unbounded by an alarm clock.
There were no set go to sleep times.
Each day a grand new adventure. Picnics in the backyard where we’d watch the birds and gather vegetables from the garden or a trip to Target where he learned how to count money and differentiate between needs and wants.
Some days we would wake up and visit the library to check out books about his latest fascination- worms, dinosaurs, or alligators.
There was no rhyme or reason. No grand lesson plan to how our days would unfold.
We battled each other with checkers on the front porch and played games with the alphabet. Painted and played in the water sprinkler.
I just said no to technology (other than the TV…because every mom needs a babysitter on occasion) and we played board games, put together puzzles, and did household chores.
We set up a farmers market in our front yard and sold corn and pumpkins from the garden he helped his daddy till. The money was put toward vacations that he was thrilled “he’d help pay for!”
It was a completely unscheduled life. Completely contrary to the life that Pinterest dictated.
I’m a former teacher with my PhD in education. In the early days I sweated and worried that I was doing him a disservice. Should we have a daily reading block and math time? Should I write lesson plans? Don’t I need a curriculum! What about a daily snack time at 2pm and a bath promptly at 6pm?
But I declined to live that life.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with raising kids with a set schedule.
It’s just not my personality.
So in my house we surrounded ourselves with good books and read at different times throughout the day. We counted and talked about math in real-life. Used maps to get to our adventures. And lived science.
I preached about politeness and to always say please and thank you.
He’s far, far from perfect, a bit mischievous with a devilish grin, but he will always hold the door for you.
So dear mama- the one without a schedule- I just want you to know it will be all right.
Don’t fret. Stop worrying that you aren’t like your best friend– the one who has life plotted out in graphs and color-coordinated charts.
Both of you are just right moms. Doing what comes natural to your psyche.
Trust yourself that you are being the best mom you can be.
Soon enough bedtimes and get up times will become a necessity instead of a choice.
Soon enough days will be spent where little bottoms will be situated in desks instead of getting to roam the great outdoors.
And if you want to spend these early years of living life without a clock- go for it.
Both of us—the moms with a schedule and the moms without one—will reach the same end point. Boo-hooing at the front door of kindergarten drop-off.
Whatever route you choose to reach that destination is just fine. No better than the other.
He got up this morning for his second day of kindergarten. Threw the flannel blankets back over his head and said he didn’t want to get up.
I didn’t want him to get up either.
But it’s time now. He’s growing into a little man. It’s the season of school.
So he grumpily crawled out of the top bunk, ate his dinosaur oatmeal, and snuggled in my bed watching Wild Kratt brothers and chatting about sea otters.
Then we loaded into my vehicle and drove off.
With a dragon backpack full of water, pencils, and a new pair of scissors he walked in to his new school with confidence, independence, manners, and knowing a bit of academic knowledge.
He waved at the teachers with a big smile.
As I walked away and got in my empty car I was happy that we’d had so many years of just experiencing life. That I’d trusted my natural inclination.
Mom without a schedule—let me tell you this from the other side. You are doing a great job. Your child will be fine.
Don’t spend these precious years worrying.
Sieze the day with impromptu adventure. If that is what you choose.
On the first day of school you’ll be happy you followed your heart and sad you can’t press repeat.
And you’ll be counting the hours until you can once again see your little side-kick.
Today was his first day of 1st grade. He couldn’t sleep last night because he was so excited for school to begin. And me? Well, I haven’t binge-eaten the first cookie or shed the first tear. I love when he’s home with me, but I also know he is doing just fine in school. We had a great summer together and we watched Curious George and adventured many times.
Plus, Michelle Medlock Adams sent him her new book– My First Day of School. I surprised him with it this morning. Her personal message to him brought the biggest smile. And we adore the line, “Mom takes my picture, then takes more”. We both giggled because that is exactly what I did today.