The Real Reason Kindergarten Is Good for Mom

Jeanne Sager

going to schoolIf the story of the mom friend who will be your bestie for the rest of your life is starting to sound like a myth at best, hold that thought. In five years, the mean girls will have stopped blathering on about how long they've done X, Y, and Z and become human again.

The curious part of parenting is that we all enter it with the same ideals. I will never, ever, ever do X turns into, eh, it happened. Once. Or maybe even twice. But my kid survived.

It's good to have them -- they make us better parents in the end -- but those ideals are a major load on the shoulders. And on the day they enter kindergarten, there's a collective whoosh heard round the country. Don't confuse it with a fall wind. It's mothers heaving a collective sigh of relief that no matter how badly they've screwed up their kid in years one through five, now they have someone to blame it on: the teacher!

The mom friends will come crawling out of the woodwork.

It may take a few weeks. Your child will come home from school begging for a playdate with Zack, leaving you racking your brain for a Zack from daycare/preschool/the park and coming up blank.

Yes, Zack (or Bella) is a new friend found in kindergarten. And he (she) comes with this parent who presents the most perfect of all potential friends. She knows diddly about what you did the first five years.

She doesn't know if you breastfed for 4 years or never even tried. She doesn't know if you co-slept or threw that baby in his crib. She doesn't know if you made your own baby food or were a Gerber devotee. And most of all, she doesn't know if your outlook on parenting is an amalgam of all the paths out there -- a little bit of AP, a little bit Dr. Ferber, a little bit your granny's favorite recipe.

And since your kid has obviously survived until kindergarten and turned out to be a personable enough kid that HER kid wants to play with little James, she won't bother to ask.

Oh, you'll disagree. About plenty. But the hard-core, nitty gritty stuff that turns out not to be in the least bit apparent when two kids are sitting side by side in a kindergarten classroom won't come up.

And you, wait for it, will have lost your idealism of those early days. Don't be embarrassed. It's called life. It happens. And you'll find you're a lot less stressed these days no longer worrying about all the ways you "might" screw up.

You may even resign yourself to stop sweating the driver's test (it's not for another 11 years, chill) and that first sleepover (it might happen, or it might not), and how to answer the first piercing request (well, is it your ears or your private parts?). 

Over years of collecting mom friends, the ones I've made since my daughter started school are the freshest. And along with one or two childhood carryovers into motherhood, they're the easiest to just be myself with for one simple reason. 

Five years into parenting, there's no question that we can all do it. We're making mistakes along the way, sure (last week my daughter told me "I'm not your slave" when asked to do something ... wonder whose mouth she heard that one out of first). But we're not "new parents" anymore. We're confident in who we are, and it scares the pants off the insecure.


Image via edenpictures/Flickr

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