*disclaimer- this is NOT a post to make other moms feel guilty about how they feel about their kids going back to school. This is a glimpse into how I feel about it and the VERY real struggle that many of us face with anxiety. Remember…this community isn’t here to judge. I’m here being real. This is my “real” in this moment.*
Not “just” Writer’s Block…
I’ve literally had writer’s block for a month now. I can’t even think of a topic that I’m passionate enough to write about. My entire life I have found so much peace in writing down my thoughts in a journal or diary and I can’t form a thought to share.
I can’t conjure up a topic to write about that could even “fake” my being happy this time of year. Not that I make a habit of “faking” any part of my writing, ever. But you know how you have those times in your life when you put a smile on your face despite how you really feel? Yea…I am struggling with that too.
My Source of Anxiety
Every single fall when my children are super excited to go back to school and I am preparing to miss them like crazy, the “anxiety monster” as I call it creeps up on me. It cripples me to the point of I can’t sleep, I can’t focus on daily chores, lists, “to-dos” and I often forget to eat throughout my day. Those that know me also know how important sleep, organizing, running my home and eating a well-balanced diet are to my well-being and overall cheerfulness and me being…me.
When my first-born went to kindergarten I worried that she might get lost on her small, private school campus. I was concerned that she wouldn’t know how to get to the bathroom or that she would have to go alone and that she might be afraid to go in the stall and then she might have an accident and how embarrassing that would be for her! Then she might be bullied for it. My thoughts even went the super extreme, irrational route of… somebody is going to come to her locked and fully gated campus and steal her and I would never see her again. I literally cried every single day until January of that school year.
When my second child came to me at 3 and a half (he had the mind and maturity of a 5-year-old) and said that he wanted to go to school, my heart broke. He was bored at home. All that I was doing with him in our home school wasn’t enough. He wanted the experience of school and to meet friends. So, I broke my rule of only sending my kids to preschool for one year before going to kindergarten and I sent him in the spring to preschool, 2 days a week. It was truly a wonderful experience for him but I had a knot in my stomach each time I dropped him off.
Tomorrow I will be sending my 5-year-old son to Kindergarten. He is the most excited out of all of my kids about starting school. He lights up when he talks about it. He wakes up every morning to run down stairs to look at the calendar to count how many more days until he starts school. He also is our “bubble boy.” Not only is he severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat and mildly to egg…he also has asthma. He has been hospitalized for his asthma twice and once for his food allergies. I have to tell you what a frightening and helpless feeling it is to watch your child go into respiratory distress right before your eyes.
You can imagine my fears and anxiety with sending him to school in just a few short days. I have spent hours and weeks and months preparing him and his school for his arrival because I know, in my heart, it is THAT important for him to go to school. I can’t keep him closed up in the comfort of our home, in his “bubble” forever. So with each passing day as we get one day closer to him starting…the knot in my stomach gets bigger and my anxieties greater.
Now, some of you might be thinking right now, “Man, this woman needs to get a life. She’s far too wrapped up in her kids’ lives. She needs some friends or a job.”
I do. I have an amazing life. I have an abundance of friends and family and I belong to a wonderful community. I am very busy volunteering my time, babysitting and up until recently I worked full-time.
Learning to Cope
You see, we all have times in our life when we are experiencing difficult trials and life changes. For some of us we get butterflies in our stomach and then it goes away. For others of us the fear and anxiety takes over and we are literally crippled.
How do I get through these days? I am so happy for my kids. We spend time together preparing for school. We go shopping for clothes, shoes, and supplies. I read them stories about going back to school. We get excited about all the classmates that are returning. We talk about the new teachers they will have. We attend “Meet the Teacher” and drop off all their supplies in their new classrooms. I do all of this with a smile on my face and joy in my heart because I am truly happy for them…
And I pray. A LOT. For me. For them. For their teachers. For the principal. For their friends and classmates. I again find the greatest comfort and peace in the arms of my Lord.
It’s not easy to do. Some days I fail miserably and don’t want to pray at all. The most difficult times are early in the morning and late at night when life is quiet. That’s when I stop to think the worst thoughts and the impending doom that is letting go of the control and sending my kids back to school.
I think whats difficult is having to give up that control. For 7-8 hours a day somebody else is in control of their well-being. That’s very hard for me to let go of. I have to trust that they are in good hands, that the Lord will protect them and the super, irrational things I think are going to happen will NOT happen.
Honestly, when I feel that I have lost the battle and anxiety has taken over… I have a good hard cry and then I remember to pray over and over…“Jesus be with me. Jesus be with me. Jesus be with me.” Over and over. And before long, a peace comes over me and I feel a little normal again.
This is the point when my homeschooling buddies say, “Then HOMESCHOOL!” A dear friend of mine who rocks at homeschooling her 4 kiddos asks me probably once a year why I don’t homeschool. The answer is this…we absolutely LOVE our kids’ private Catholic school. There is no place like it. This community of faith along with the education our children receive are exactly what we want for our kids. Now, every school year we do discern if this is still the best place for our children and at this point in time, it is.
So if you could, think of me on your kids’ first day back to school. Think of those who have a real, daily struggle with anxiety and fear. Say a prayer for us if you are the praying type.
Not everybody has the same triggers for their fear but we are all crippled by it in some way. I hope that my being “real” has given some comfort and peace knowing you’re not alone but also maybe a few tips of how to work through it.
Lastly, I hope that we remember to give each other some grace because behind ours smiles are real struggles of many who are trying to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
Thank you for reading what’s in the deepest part of my heart these days. Perhaps now I can move beyond this writer’s block and bring you more of Miss Mae!
What are you feeling this time of year? Excitement? Frustration with all the “to-dos” and shopping lists? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
UPDATE: FIND out how God sent an angel that protected my son on his 8th day of Kindergarten, the lessons learned from our experience and the opportunity I’ve been given to share this all with you.