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The First Day of School, As Told by Moms

Are they ready? Probably. The question is, are you?

Kids walking to school - Two girls are walking on a sidewalk carrying black schoolbags on their back.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Julie Shapiro
A six month old male child in a blue shirt and khaki pants is held in the air by his parents who are facing away from the camera. Ther mother has long dark hair and a blue shirt and the father has a green shirt. They are outside surrounded by trees.

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The backpacks are packed, the outfits laid out, the lunches made—it’s the first day of school. Whether your baby is leaving for college or strapping on a backpack for the first time, watching them walk out the door and into the world is bound to evoke emotions—different ones for everyone. We had five moms share what was going through their minds as they waved goodbye on the first day of school.

Lunch is for suckers

by Jancee Dunn

School day - An open red schoolbag resting on a table reveals a jelly worm treat and a paper slipped inside a pocket
Photo credit: Courtesy of Jancee Dunn

When our daughter, Sylvie, who is our only child, had her first day of kindergarten, I was a mess. I cried so hard when I dropped her off in her classroom that her teacher came over to me and gently asked me to leave. “You’re upsetting the other students,” she whispered. I looked around, and to my horror, two kindergarteners, freaked out that I was sobbing, were crying, too. Sylvie, in the meantime, was happily chattering with friends.

My daughter never forgot the scene I made those years ago. So today, her first day of fourth grade, she banned me from drop-off. This morning was a scramble. Sylvie, her dad and I all had such a fun summer together this year that we were in a bit of denial that it was ending—I barely had anything for her lunch (but at least I remembered to include a festive gummy worm in honor of the first day of school).

When my husband, Tom, returned from dropping her off, he reported that Sylvie’s new teacher had asked her if she was ready for fourth grade. “Sort of,” my truthful child replied. Then Tom got on his computer and quickly ordered some school supplies he had forgotten to get and Amazon Prime-ed them. We all have to be dragged into the school year a little bit, but by next week, we’ll be back in the groove. Hopefully.


by Joy Harrington

Two children with schoolbags on sit in a school cafeteria. A little boy in a red tshirt holds a spoon to his mouth with food from a tray in front of him and has a happy expression on his face. The young girl in a pink shirt and rainbow colored pants stands up next to him picking at her food on the tray.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Joy Harrington

I almost felt guilty waking my sleeping “threenagers" to get dressed for the first day of Pre-K. My 3-year-old twins were so cute asleep in their bunks, but it was time to get ready for school! My son shuffled like a zombie into my room and climbed into the bed. My daughter staggered bleary eyed to the fridge to get her customary cup of milk. Our family does not live for the morning.

It didn’t get better. They didn't want to go. They said so. My son purposely mispronounced his teacher's name in protest. They moped all the way to our truck. When we parked in the lot, my daughter said “No.” No to the picture I tried to take on the front steps. No into the building. No at the door of the classroom.

Other people got misty eyed and choked up when they had to let their littlest children walk away from them and into school. Not me and my husband! The bigger, stronger and faster the twins get, the more we struggle to entertain them ourselves. We must’ve done a fairly good job since they wanted to stay home. But school will be better. They need to learn a lot more than we can teach them. They need other kids to play with (and wear them out). They need to go to sleep at 8, not 10. So yes, school! I’ll miss them terribly during the days, but I’m a working mother and life is hard and getting harder. So send them back to me ready to eat dinner, cuddle and go to sleep. Beautiful silent sleep. Yes. Let's do this.

College bound

by Gita Seebarran

College - An older man gives an older teenager a hug as they stand inside a newly furnished dorm room.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Gita Seebaran

I have such mixed emotions. My only child left for college today. I’m so sad because I will miss my daughter terribly. I’m incredibly proud because I know how hard she worked to get here. And I’m excited because I understand the wonderful experience she is about to embark upon.

Nothing can prepare a mother for college move-in day—the most bittersweet, OMG moment. My baby girl is all grown up. I want to be strong for her, but I will miss her so. My heart aches and there are tears in my eyes as I wonder how she will adjust: Will she make friends? Will she get along with her roommate? Will she be safe? Will she get to classes on time? But I know I raised a smart, strong, amazing child and she will make good choices. 

As my husband and I walk to the car at the end of a very long, emotional day, I realize things will never be the same again. I’ll miss making her dinner every night. I’ll miss our morning hugs and kisses at school drop off. I’ll miss seeing her beautiful face when I walk in the door after work. Our evening talks. Our weekend drives. Oh how I’ll miss my shopping bud.  

But it’s all been preparation for this very moment.  I want to be strong and not show my emotions in front of her, because as hard as this is for me, I fear it’s twice as hard for her.

Just gotta be me

by Julie Shapiro

School Day - Two young girls pose for a camera as they carry large black school bags. They have their tongues out in defiance.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Julie Shapiro

On my own first day of middle (or maybe it was high) school, I was a hot mess—fixated on a zit-turned-giant-blemish on my chin; obsessed with whether my outfit was appropriate (not too matchy-matchy with my friends, but not so different as to call attention to myself); panicked over whether I’d be able to remember my locker combination; convinced I’d never be able to make it on time from 4th period gym class to 5th period bio located on the total opposite side of the school…

This morning as I watched my first day middle and high schooler walk off together, acting their goofy, carefree, authentic selves, my heart melted in a way I cannot explain. Their confidence, their enthusiasm—it was contagious and left me full of wonder and appreciation for the independent young women they have become.

I hope the world continues to be kind to them so they can maintain the confidence they have right now as they walk together, headed into uncharted waters. These are not typically easy years. My fingers are crossed.

Everything I live for is right in front of me.

Be brave, little one

by Sarah DiBari

A toddler with long hair, a purple book bag, grey top and teal lace skirt stands in front of a doorway posing for a photo. She has a determined look on her face.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Sarah DiBari

Be Brave, Little One. It’s the title of her favorite book, and every time she says it out loud–in her tiny, uncertain toddler voice–I find that my heart wants to burst. With pride. With aggressive affection. With sadness, knowing she won’t always be so little.

Today, she started a new “big girl” school. And as I looked at my beautiful baby, in her new dress and sparkly pink sneakers, her hair too long because I simply can’t bring myself to cut it, I kept repeating that phrase in my head. “Be brave, little one…Be brave, little one…” But I was saying it for my own benefit, not hers.

My daughter needs no encouragement—she is by far the bravest person I know. She confidently walked into her new classroom today, with nary a glance in my direction. Because at barely 3 years old, she is already so much stronger than I am. She is strong-willed. Fearless. Smart.

Today, little one, you had enough courage for us both. And I promise, on days when you might falter or fall, Mommy will be brave for you, too.

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Published September 4th, 2018
A six month old male child in a blue shirt and khaki pants is held in the air by his parents who are facing away from the camera. Ther mother has long dark hair and a blue shirt and the father has a green shirt. They are outside surrounded by trees.

Want to read more about parenting?