All first-time mamas need a friend who’s been around the block a time or two who can show her the ropes. When she has a newborn for the first time, she needs a good sister-in-law like my sisters-in-law who will write her an email about how to properly breastfeed, or who will call her up to ask if she needs help figuring out how often the baby should eat, or who can warn her about fevers that sometimes accompany shots. She needs to be told it’s OK to do X, Y, or Z by a mama who’s been there, and it’s best if that mama is non-judgmental, like my sweet sisters-in-law.
Once the baby grows up and the new mama gets the hang of things, she needs a mama friend in her neighborhood who’s been through the local systems — the dance classes, the church classes, school, etc.
She needs a local mama who can help her measure her 4-year-old for a dance costume she isn’t going to wear until the recital when she will actually be 5, a local mama who can tell her that the buttons with her daughter’s dance picture on them are to be worn to the recital, a local mama who she can ask what she should have said to another mama when something went down at a play date she wasn’t too happy about.
It’s a bonus if this local mama also happens to be a hairdresser because then the first-time mama can be taught some helpful tricks for getting all that hair into the proper recital hairdo.
A first-time mama really needs a local mama friend to help her through kindergarten. Well, I really need a local mama friend to help me through kindergarten.
But my local friend up and moved herself and her family all the way across the country. Funny thing is, she didn’t ask me if this was something I agreed with. Come to think of it, when my sister-in-law, who was my go-to for all things developmentally related in child-rearing, moved her family to another country, she didn’t ask my permission either. It’s like their pursuits of career advancement and adventure were more important than sticking around and giving me advice. I mean, have you ever?
So now, I’m left to navigate kindergarten all by my lonesome. And it turns out, it’s a pretty ridiculous thing to figure out.
There are things called room mothers, which I apparently am. What does that even mean? It sounds so… old.
There are parties to plan, events to attend, drop-offs and pick-ups to navigate and homework to supervise.
Tuesday is picture day, Wednesday is bring-a-label-to-school-to-show-the-class day, Wednesday is also turn-in-your-homework-folder day, Thursday is show-and-tell day (Be sure to contact the teacher three days in advance if you’re bringing a sibling, grandparent or pet.) and bring-home-your-homework-folder day, Friday is the fun run for which my daughter is supposed to collect money from neighbors and family (That’s not happening.).
There are box tops and PTA meetings, forms to fill out, checks to sign and then cross your fingers that your 5-year-old is responsible enough to not lose them on the way to class and get your identity stolen.
There are shoes that are already falling apart from hard recess play — how did that happen?
There are new friends’ names I must learn and eventually invite over for play dates.
And there’s a beautiful little girl, who just this week decided she’s big enough to walk herself to her line while Mom waits in the car and cranes her neck until it spasms so she can make sure her grown-up baby makes it safely into school.
Oh, and she also decided she’s big enough to ride a bike without training wheels. The nerve.
Since watching my oldest grow up is giving me heart palpitations, I’m now recruiting for a seasoned mother to be my guide for the rest of my child’s career in the school system. It’s not too much to ask. Qualifications: Non judgmental and won’t ever leave me.