My daughter recently started elementary school and I expected her to love it – because she’s absolutely adored going to preschool the past two years. In fact, she begged at age 2 1/2 for me to put her in school. She’s a little social butterfly and thrives on learning and structure and routine. So I didn’t really think much of it that this Fall she would be attending regular, ‘all day’ school.
Let’s just say it hasn’t been the easiest transition in the world for her. She gets upset some days at drop-off and says how scared she is. This past Tuesday was one of the worst mornings we have had since school started. She began crying at home, protesting how much she did not want to go to school that day. Once we pulled up for drop-off, things got worse and worse. She didn’t want to get out of the car, but other cars were whizzing past me as I was standing there on the street holding my 2-year-old trying to coax her out – so that was fun. I started to become desperate so I mentioned we would make these cookies I had bought at Trader Joe’s when she got out of school. When that didn’t work, I did what any mom in a similar situation would: I told her the cookie-making was off. Which made her cry even harder. All the things I never thought I would do or say as a mother – I do them. Guilty as charged.
After tons of persuasion, she climbed out of the car and we walked hand-in-hand to her class. As we approached the building, she began completely sobbing that she just wanted to stay home with mama and not go to school every day and she missed me. I told her I understood that (and miss her too), but at this age, it’s time for every child to go to school. She went to her classroom crying.
I walked away from the scene feeling like a total failure at parenting – not to mention, completely exhausted and it was only 8:30am. Luckily, my son and I were meeting up with a friend and her little one, and she had gone through something similar that morning too. We shared each of our stories, and talked about how hard parenting is. We are pulled in so many different directions daily, and there is only so much of us to go around when you have multiple children.
Later on, when my son napped, I still couldn’t shake away the awful scene at school that morning. I just felt so sad for my daughter and wanted to help her in whatever way that I could. I prayed specifically for a solution so this wouldn’t keep happening day after day. After a few moments of quiet, I clearly heard God say, “Meet her where she is. Be all in. Be all in.” And then so much more: “Bake the cookies anyway. Let her help. Spend time with her. Love on her. Let her be with her mama. Kiss those cheeks. Rub that back. Don’t withhold anything. Be emotionally available. I will give you what you need. Don’t make it harder than it is. I will refresh you. Come to me. I will give you rest.”
All of a sudden I realized I had been mistaking my presence for connection with her – but they are not one in the same. She needs connection with me – my time and my attention. What a humbling realization. She was going through one of her hardest transitions to date and I was not “all in” with her. I knew what needed to happen, and all that I needed to do was love on her more than ever, spend quality time with her, and let her know I was there in such a scary time.
After this epiphany, I couldn’t wait to get her at dismissal that day. She smiled big when she saw me, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Hey Mom! Are we going to bake those cookies together?”
Yes, love bug. We are most definitely baking those cookies.