5 Ways Kindergarten Info Night Was Like the First Day of Middle School (Mine)

Earlier in the week, I had to go to T's kindergarten information night. I was a little nervous, as I always am what I don't know what to expect. But one thing I did not expect at all  is the overwhelming sense of deja vu that came over me when I walked in. It was like my first day of middle school – which was not great, thankyouverymuch – all over again. Here's why: 

  • Little Fish, Big Pond: The town where I grew up doesn't have its own middle and high schools, which meant the friendly familiar elementary school faces on that first day of middle school were few and far between. Twentysomeodd years later, same deal with familiar preschool parent faces. Only much, much fewer. 
  • The Cool Kids: On the first day, there is always that group – that one group – that just exudes "cool." Whether as students in middle school or as parents at info night, they are the ones who effortlessly know exactly what to wear, exactly where to sit, and exactly what to do when. They are also sooo popular that instead of sitting at one of the designated tables, they take chairs out of a chair rack to put around their own, larger table near back of the room. Both so they have enough room for all their friends and so they can be closest to the room's prime real estate – like the exit and the sign up sheet for screening day. 
  • The Unfortunate Medical Condition: My first day of middle school, it was that I had just had oral surgery and could not eat, drink anything except water or brush my teeth for two weeks. Which pretty much meant that I was "that weird girl that didn't talk or eat", at least for awhile. This time around, I have some kind of respiratory infection and no voice. Again, "the weird girl that doesn't talk." Ah, timing is everything. 
  • Navigating the Social Scene: A couple of groups make presentations on first days, convincing you of both the benefits their club or organization provides and how swell it would be if you joined. This is a trick. Choose a club, choose a label. So choose carefully.
  • Anxiety: I have serious anxiety and am socially awkward. Once you know me, I am actually quite funny and we can joke about it. Until then, you either think I'm weird, standoffish, and/or have an obscure skin condition that causes me to spontaneously break out in hives. 

The good news is that I survived, both times. The even better news is that this time around it is not about me. T has made some great friends in preschool who will be going to kindergarten with him. He has an energy and exuberance that seem to endear him to other boys his age. And as most mamas do, I know I will put myself out there and rise to the occasion in ways that I didn't have the courage to the first time around. Because this time, it's for my kid. 

And there is not much I will not do for that kid.

What-If : Getting Control of Anxiety

I have always been an anxious person. As I child I was most afraid – in no particular order – of bridges, heights, my parents dying in a car crash and nuclear war. As I grew into my teenaged years and early 20's, I was less anxious and afraid but certainly not fearless.

Then I became a mom. And my old friend anxiety came back and hit me like a Mack truck. Because here's the thing, the thing no one tells you before you decide to have a child – being a mom will make you a little bit (or a lot) crazy. Some people liken it to walking around with your heart outside your body. I think it's more like walking around with an extremely painful open wound that someone constantly pours salt into. Too much? Maybe to you. But not to me; not when I'm struggling so much with getting control of anxiety.

I've become the queen of the "what ifs." This has been building for awhile. "What if it had been my kid who went missing? What if this plane crashes and my children are orphaned? What if a creepy weirdo shoots up this movie theater?" 

But over the past few weeks, I have hit a new low. I have been strangely sick, and I am never sick. And googling my multitude of symptoms – such a nasty habit, googling medical symptoms – continued to feed one great big what if. 

"What if there is something so wrong with me that it cannot be fixed? What if I die?"

I couldn't stop it, the downward spiral toward my hypothetical terminal diagnosis. Even though I knew it was unlikely, I could not let it go. I could not get control of my anxiety. Every second, in some part of my brain, I was working out what I would do and how I would tell people and what I would ask them to do for me and how I could leave the tiny humans behind and whether Ryan would meet someone right away. Every second. 

Until this morning, when a very big test came back normal. And I am breathing again. I am smiling, and laughing, and living my life. I am not playing the "what if" game. Not tonight. 

Meanwhile, I wasted six weeks of my life. I worried away the holidays, not entirely present because my mind was too busy wondering "what if this is the last one I get?" It means that it is past time to focus on getting control of my anxiety. Because one of these days will be the last one. And I don't want to be looking back, knowing how many days I wasted waiting for the last one to show up. 

2013 is the year I work on getting control of the anxiety. Because, again, "your children will become who you are. So be who you want them to be." I want these tiny humans to grow up to be fearless and go on every adventure that I was too scared for. I do not want them to be this version of me.