First Day of School Jitters
It’s the morning of the first day of school. Backpacks are waiting. Lunches are packed. The perfect outfit has been found. Hair and teeth have been brushed. An attempt to eat breakfast has been made but aborted for nerves. After the required first day photos have been taken its out the door and to the car.
Then the nerves really began. Will they like me? Will I make friends this year? Will anyone even talk to me? Will the teacher like me? What if I don’t know where to go? What if I walk into the wrong room? What if I forget something? Or trip? Will they laugh at me?
As we pull up in front of the school, I must push those feelings aside and act more confident than I feel. I need to focus on my son and his first day of preschool 4. He is so happy to see his teachers and friends from last year. He is so excited about making new ones. He can’t wait to swing on the swings and dig in the sand. He wants to paint pictures and take walks in the woods. I can’t let my fears ruin his joy.
My son had been talking nonstop about going back to school, while I secretly worried about it. Not because I was concerned for him. No. I was concerned for myself. How would I stack up to the other mothers in the pick-up and drop off lines? Would they think I was too fat to be wearing those pants? Would they notice my “messy top knot” was more than a fashion statement?
Most of the moms at my son’s preschool are nice, or at least they seem nice, during our quick passing “hi” in the morning. I admit I don’t know any of their names, it’s just “oh that’s so and so’s mom or dad” (There are a few dad’s this year – aren’t they brave!). Yet, even though they smile and open when we pass each other during the quick hugs and “bye, Mom!”s we get from our kids, I continue to get the dreaded butterflies in the beginning of every school year. There is always a few moms who step out of their expensive SUVs, with the slow motion grace and flawless silhouette of super models. Their hair brushed (and clean!) and their yoga pants really worn to yoga (is that what they’re for?). Those moms, the “Plastics” of the drop off line (Thank you, Mean Girls for that fabulous moniker!), who seem to have everything while they have all their shit together too (so not fair!).
I know that all this is in my head (or at least most of it) and these women could be hot messes, with lack luster sex lives or unsupportive husbands or cellulite hidden below those expensive athletic pants. But today, presentation is all that matters. We have cloaked reality in a veil of perfection that is as unfair as it is untrue. How screwed up we are doesn’t matter if only we know about it.
As the age of PTA and field trips marches ever closer, I know it will continue to get worse. I know that as my children enter high school and face the challenges of acceptance or ostracism, so will I. I understand how other parents and the teachers perceive me, our lifestyle, or family dynamic will also affect my children.
I shared these fears with my husband he would think I was nuts. He has an innate ability to not give a shit what others think about him (boy, do I wish I shared that talent!) And he’s probably right not to care.
There’s an adage that says, “if you wonder what people are thinking about you – they’re not.” That’s a hard pill to swallow as you watch the Drop Off Line Plastics give you the side eye as you walk your kid to the playground (or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself is happening.). Yet to survive the next 20+ years of “school time” I have left I must grow a thicker skin and not give a shit like my husband, or I need to foster a new way of thinking altogether.
Maybe those perfect Drop Off Line Plastics are as insecure and uncomfortable as I am. Maybe they secretly envy me something (I do have good-looking kids!). Or maybe it’s simply their “perfection” has isolated them and made the unapproachable by the “normal” mothers, like me. And maybe they’re simply social awkward and are simply waiting for someone to extend them an invitation to conversation.
This year, maybe, I’ll be the brave one and introduce myself. Maybe I’ll bridge the gap and find out what’s underneath her perfection. Maybe I’ll make a friend and get to see and know her flaws. What better example could I be for my kids? Make friends whenever and where ever you can.
Or maybe not…