Sending My Child Back to School Makes Me Sad - why I'll miss my son when he returns to his Kindergarten classroom

Sending My Child Back to School Makes Me Sad

This post is publishing today, which must mean my sweet little boy has gone back to Kindergarten after 3 weeks off for the winter holidays. I know many parents count down to this day, and there’s even a Christmas song that mentions parents looking forward to their kids going back to school. But I’m not one of them.

Before my son started Kindergarten, I was looking at my calendar, thinking he would be off for the winter holidays for 2 weeks, which is what I had grown up with. I remember thinking 2 weeks wasn’t a long time. They would go by in the blink of an eye. I was relieved (yes, relieved) when I learned his winter break was 3 whole weeks.

Maybe, at this point, you might be thinking I’m a little weird. While I do enjoy getting to spend the time he’s away at school with my 2 year old daughter, I really, really, really like having both of my kids with me. I’m a bit of a control freak that way. Over the summer, I was sad when I realized my son wasn’t going to be having lunch with us every day, that I wasn’t going to get to make him a nice lunch he wouldn’t eat anyways. I was disappointed knowing he was going to do fun and amazing things in school without me. As a stay at home mom for most of his life, I had gotten so darn used to being involving with just about every minute of his life. Sending him to Kindergarten broke my heart. I could have homeschooled him. My husband and I still talk about it. But he loves his teacher, adores his classmates, and looks forward to going to school. It would be selfish of me to pull him out of something he enjoys just to satisfy my own needs. Besides, he doesn’t want me to be so present in his life anymore. He tells me to leave as soon as he walks through the gate at school. He’s definitely growing up too fast.

I’m too aware that kids grow up so fast, and it seems to be getting faster every year. Sometimes I long to be one of those parents who gets excited about sending their kids back to school and who enjoys imagining all the things they can do sans kids. Sometimes I want to be that kind of mom just so I can fit in. But I can’t do it. I can’t feel anything but dread about sending my son back to school. I just want him to stay with me forever.

Now, my son is a fairly typical child. He’s rambunctious, nutty, boy-level disgusting, loud, and stubbornly resistant to trying most foods. But he’s also incredibly adorable, extremely sweet, silly beyond words, and really adores his little sister. It’s been amazing to watch him grow up and become such a nice, sweet person who thinks about others. I just want to hug him and keep hugging him, but he’s not little and snuggly anymore. This kid wants his independence and it makes my heart ache to have to give it to him. But, as much as I want him to stay little forever, I also can’t wait to see him become an adult.

This year, I can’t help but feel sad about sending him back to school. Maybe, as he gets older, that will change, but, today, he’s still my little boy. I have a hard time letting him go not just because he’s a rainbow baby, but because he was also born early. I’ll always wonder how it might impact him behaviorally, socially, psychologically, emotionally, and academically, so not being privy to his every minute at school often feels excruciating. So, yes, I’m very sad this year, even though I know he loves school and will be learning amazing things.

As this posts, I’ve just dropped him off at school and am missing him terribly. He’s been such a huge part of my life for the past 5 years; it’s hard to let go. I’ve been so involved with him and he’s been my constant companion. I actually feel a little lost without him. It feels a lot like when I had a part-time job and wasn’t going to be with him every minute of the day and night. With time, we’ll readjust back to his school schedule. But I know I’ll be counting down to when I get to pick him up.

In a little over two months, I get to take him out of school early so we can go to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a visitor’s day tour, and I know I’ll be counting down more for my benefit than his even though he absolutely loves everything space related. And then summer vacation starts in about 5 months. I’m counting down. I am definitely counting down.

For more of my parenting posts or to check out my journey into finding magic in motherhood, head over to the Mother’s Corner.

20 Comments

  • Author A. R. Curry

    The feelings are shared, but I get over it by reminding myself how much my kids will learn while they’re at school and what the long-term benefits of that learning will be. I also remind myself that runners don’t run the same pace for an entire marathon and that parenting is definitely a marathon. While my kids are in school, I recharge myself so I can be more efficient when they are home but darn if it doesn’t hurt when I first started sending them. (I have a 6th grader, a 5th grader, 1 about to start kindergarten, 1 in preschool, and 1 a few years away lol)

    • kat

      All great things to keep in mind! Since you’re a much more seasoned parent than I am, I definitely appreciate your words, and really like the idea of recharging while they’re in school. Right now nap time serves that purpose, but I know they can’t nap forever!

  • bitsanddragons

    Don’t be sad please, think about the stories he will tell you when he’s back from the school, the new friends, the new experiences. Later on you can ask him if he likes it or not, maybe you can encourage him, or share with him your memories about. That’s fun.

    Although I need to admit that if I have support I’d prefer to teach my son at home. This way he will be free of dogmatism. Or I would choose something “in between”…does anything like that exists? Like a month there, a month with me…

    • kat

      I do find some of his stories hilarious, if a bit weird. He’s only 5 so his storytelling abilities are often a little questionable, but at least I know all the students who get into trouble a lot! Picking him up is my favorite time of the day.

      There was a school near where we used to live where parents could choose to send their kids to the campus anywhere from 1-5 days a week and receive homeschooling support for they days they would be at home. Sadly, this huge city we now live in has nothing of the sort, so I plan on spending his summer vacations teaching him my own way so he can develop multiple ways of looking at problems instead of what the district deems “correct.”

  • ourlittleredhouseblog

    This is such a sweet post Kat, I know exactly what you mean too. My son is all grown up at 19 but I remember those days when he was off to school. Both my kids had to start at 2-3 years old because of language delay and in my daughters case she was a premature baby that had some developmental delays in the beginning but now they have advanced so much that my daughter started a university and my son starts at the same university in August. They both kept their GPA high so they are getting scholarships to the university, which just amazes me. We did end up taking our kids out of their public school from the ages of 7- 14 and homeschooled them. Then they went back into the public school system from 14-17/18. When they are tiny it is so hard to let them out of your site. Bet you love your weekends.

    • kat

      That’s amazing! Sometimes I wonder about, if I homeschooled for a few years, what it would be like for them to reintegrate into a school. I think at the older ages schools really do have resources that might be harder to parents to offer, but the younger children probably could be taught just as well at home. If we ever decide to do it that way, it’s comforting to know it can be done so successfully. You’re children sound amazing!

  • Lisa R. Howeler

    I had exactly the same feelings and I could say that is why I am homeschooling my son now, but it’s really not. It was school problem and just went from there. Now he isn’t interested in going back to school but at 13 he is, of course, very independent. I was never one of those parents who longed for their kid to go back to school. I always cried and missed him terribly. I like helping him set up assignments now and making sure he’s leaning what I think and know he needs to learn and I know if he goes back to public school I will miss him but I will also realize I’ve helped prepare him for that transition.

    • kat

      I’m so glad to know it’s not just me! I hear so many parents who look forward to sending their kids back to school, but I just can’t do it. Not every child flourishes in a school and sometimes a traditional school can do more harm that help. Besides, I think homeschooling can be so beneficial for parents, too, what with all the material they can re-learn and learn. Your son sounds like he’s becoming a fantastic individual who knows what he wants, and that’s so important in today’s youth. My husband works with a lot of people in their 20s who have no real direction or independence, and it makes me so sad.

      • Lisa R. Howeler

        When we let the schools do everything for our kids how can we expect them to have any independence or desire to have their own direction? They are sitting there waiting for someone to tell them what to do like they always did in school

      • kat

        Exactly! We’re just training our kids to be drones from an early age. It was my husband’s biggest complaint when he was a college professor (doesn’t do it anymore for a reason!). Our 5 year old is showing signs of just wanting everyone to do all the thinking for him, so now we’re teaching him initiative and to question everyone (except us, for now). I can see why schools want to do everything; it’s probably easier when their classrooms are stuffed with more than 20 children. 25 or more is normal in the Kindergarten classrooms where we are. But they’re failing to prepare children for the future when they’re adults (and are in government and making bad choices).

  • brookejcutler

    Aww. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel, Kat. It’s all telling you something, I’m sure. xx My little man is about to start school so pretty soon, too, so I’ll know exactly what you’re talking about when that happens, I’ll bet. So many big big hugs from me. xx❤️

    • kat

      Oh, absolutely! I don’t want my babies to grow up, haha. But, seriously, there’s no worse marker for time that sending your child off to school. They’re only so little once, so it often hurts to be apart for so long 5 days a week. It’s so hard to send the little ones off to school!

  • mothertherealist

    I think I had a lot of this separation anxiety and love with every ‘first’ my first child went through. I haven’t evolved to become “one of those parents” who are excited about school out of wanting them away, so much as becoming that way for the reasons you mentioned: they need the time in their own spheres. A secondary reason is that I cannot get anything done, so school allows me time to plan and schedule and revisit plans of what to do with them all day. 🙂

    • kat

      Hmm, I hadn’t thought of the possibility that I feel this way because he’s my first, so now I’m curious about my reaction when my second goes to school. But that’s a good way of thinking about it: getting things done. I suppose my home could use a deep cleaning one day… And I suppose I’ll need to figure out how to keep one entertained while helping the other with homework.

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