Now that September is in the rear-view mirror — seriously, it felt like it lasted all of three seconds — many of us have fallen into our more predictable routines again. Schedules provide structure, and structure is supposed to provide stability. For me, that means going back to the usual pattern of drop-off and pickup with my daughter. And this presents renewed opportunity to reconnect with the other preschool parents.
When I went about this the first time around last September, I had my concerns about a lot of things. And I learned a lot after the first year of preschool, and a lot of that learning came from chatting with other preschool parents. As it turns out, we have a lot in common. We may not express them out loud, but we ask a lot of the same questions.
Am I Doing Enough?
This applies well beyond the realm of parenting. For my part, I’m constantly questioning whether I’m making enough, if I’m working hard enough, if I’m spending enough time with my daughter,l if I’m contributing around the house enough, if I’m promoting my YouTube channel enough, if I’m giving back to my community enough… the list never ends, because I always want to be better, I want to do more.
Try as we might not to compare ourselves to others, I feel this is inevitable. Since Addie is enrolled in a parent participation preschool, this means that the preschool parents take on a number of additional responsibilities too. I look at the other parents and I wonder if I did enough for the silent auction or if we’re doing enough on our duty days.
When I look to the other parents, the answer is obvious. Of course, you’re doing enough. You’re absolutely doing the best that you can for the kids. When I look in the mirror, though, the level of confidence is nowhere near as strong… though I suspect the other parents might feel the same way about themselves too.
Is She Socializing Well?
Addie, well, she’s the exact opposite. She’s overwhelmingly outgoing, to a fault even. But because she can be so energetic and she has learned to be really assertive, I sometimes worry that she can’t sit still. She can’t really keep to herself, because she wants to socialize with everyone, even if other kids might prefer to be left alone.
I see other kids sitting politely, quietly waiting their turn. And then there’s my kid, barging into the middle of the action. It’s a different kind of challenge.
Is My Kid Weird?
It’s certainly not just about social skills either. It’s everything that has to do with raising a well-rounded little human. Some preschool parents might feel concerned that their child is too afraid to get dirty, and thus does not want to participate in any outdoor activity. They don’t want to get messy and this could hinder their access to experience.
But as many other parents know far too well, the other end of that spectrum is no less concerning. You know the type: the kid who insists on jumping in every puddle, rolling around in the mud because he thinks it’s funny. On some level, it’s “good” that your kid wants to interact with nature. On another level, I don’t want to clean up afterward.
And you know what? Both kids are perfectly normal, because you’ll see adults on both ends of the spectrum too.
How Does Everyone Else Handle This?
Newsflash: We’re busy. We’re all busy. For my part, I’ve got my freelance writing business with multiple clients, this blog, the weekly vlog, my “adulting” responsibilities as a homeowner, chores around the house, regular errands to run… oh, and then there’s that whole parenting thing too (which is a 24/7 gig), plus the work related with the parent participation preschool.
It’s a lot. It’s not so much that it feels like I’m juggling a lot in my life. Really, a better analogy is playing a game of Whac-a-Mole where the moles keep multiplying and your hammer gets less effective. And while it might look like the other preschool parents have everything under control, chances are that they feel just as nervous, just as anxious, just as overwhelmed as you do.
How do other preschool parents handle all of this? One day at a time, just like everyone else.
Am I Alone?
When I sit down to exchange pleasantries with the other preschool parents at pickup, I can see that we all lead different lives. The individual circumstances vary. Some are full-time, stay-at-home parents. Some have just the one kid (like me), and others have several. And there’s a range in socioeconomic status too.
But we’re also kind of the same, and we can share in many of the same frustrations and triumphs too. Parenting is far and away the most challenging job I’ve ever had in my life, and it is also far and away the most rewarding. I’m sure the other parents feel the same way, as flustered and shell-shocked as most of us are, most of the time. No judgement.