Dear Kindergarten Parent,
As a teacher who is passionate about the growth that is capable in a child’s first year of school, I want to talk to you. I want to ease your mind and settle your nerves.
I see your anxiety. Will they struggle? Will they make friends? Will they find learning difficult? And I’m here to tell you that it’ll be ok. That I’m on your side and that we are in this together.
I’m a mum. I’ve stood where you are standing and I’ve watched my little ones go off to Kindergarten. One ran into the room, without a backwards glance. Confident, happy and eager. The other was a little more timid. Curious and keen, yet reserved and nervous. Each came with their own set of worries for me. A different set of concerns. I’ve stood where you are standing. And I’m here to tell you that I know what that’s like.
As your child’s teacher I want to tell you that I want them to succeed as much as you do. I want them to make friends as much as you do. I want them to work hard, to learn and to grow as much as you do.
As your child’s teacher I want to tell you that I will be spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with your little person and I will come to love them. I will get excited when they finally piece together their first sentence and bring it to me to decipher. I will be proud when they come to tell me that they learnt to whistle, or tie their shoes or use a skipping rope. I will encourage them and support them as they dive into new friendships, navigating the bumpy and often confusing waters that is their new social circle. I will comfort them when they hurt themselves, or have a falling out with a friend or want their mum. I will do all these things, just as I would do for my own two children. I will do all these things because that’s what I wanted for my children when they started school. I will do these things because I’m a teacher and it’s what I love.
So, please don’t be too worried.
We’re in this together, you and I.
Your Child’s Teacher
But the main reason that I am going to cut back significantly on my Facebook checking…...is that it is making me feel like a really crappy mum.
My husband used to get extremely frustrated with me, when my crazy little man was a newborn and I would come home from Mother’s Group, feeling really down on myself and my mothering abilities. Everyone else’s baby was sleeping through the night. Everyone else’s baby was breastfeeding every three hours, just like the book said it should. Everyone else’s baby was having three sleeps a day and was falling into a beautiful routine….
That’s what I heard, anyway.
My mother’s group was the most beautiful group of girls, all struggling their way through that hazy newborn phase. All supporting each other, all being completely normal new mums. But, every time I heard just one say that their baby was doing something that I was trying to get mine to do, I would fixate on that. I would tell myself that I was a crappy mum. Why could they do it and I couldn’t?
Well now, it’s Facebook. And it’s the highlights reel that comes up on my feed every day. It’s the amazing, lovey dovey photos and captions that come up, making me think that that one photo is indicative of that mum’s entire day. That there were no arguments, no tantrums about cleaning teeth and no pre teen attitude or eye rolling. Their marriage must be perfect, their relationship with their children must be perfect…..and I bet their house is immaculate.
And you know what’s really bad?!
I’m one of the worst!! I love my children and am so proud of every little achievement they make. But as I started writing this article I realised…..my FB feed is one of THOSE! It’s a highlights reel. I am probably making others feel exactly how I am feeling about their perfect lives.
Social media is making mothering really hard….
It has added this whole extra level of anxiety around being a mum. The beautiful sleeping bub pic does not show the sleepless night that his mum had the night before, or the tears that are shed because she is finding feeding really hard and painful. The family selfie, where everyone is smiling and obviously having bucket loads of fun, does not show the argument that the kids had in the backseat of the car ten minutes prior, telling each other that they hate each other.
I am making my behind-the-scenes sound horrible. It is far from it. But it’s not easy and it’s definitely not accurately depicted through the series of beautiful photos that I am constantly bombarding my poor FB friends with!
There are lots of articles circulating about being an honest parent and not glossing over how hard being a parent can often be. Well, my first move is to take a break from Facebook. I do love seeing the lives of old friends unfold into adulthood. The girls that I remember as awkward teenagers or uni students, teetering on that line between child and adult, are all getting married, having kids, building houses and succeeding in amazing careers. And I love sitting back and watching it. But we haven’t always had this selective, constant insight into everyone else’s life and sometimes we just need a break.
We need to remember that the reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlights reel.