Monday, September 10, 2012

MY first day of preschool...

Like I said in my last post about preschool, Gavin is going to make friends and all of the kids in his class seem like nice kids. We knew one of the kids already, but not very well. Gavin actually didn't remember him, but his Mom went to school with Cliff and we have mutual friends, so we see them every once in a while.

Me on the other hand? Because it IS about me, right? Yeah, I know, it never is...  but I just need to get this out there. I'll just say I sure felt like the outsider at preschool. For starters, Cliff was the only Dad who went to the orientation, which was one hour over lunch time. I understand completely that it's not nearly as easy for all parents to make it to things like this as it is for us. I am SO grateful that Cliff made the effort to be there and I am so glad he is as involved as he is. That said, he was the only Dad and therefore, we were the only "couple" there. So, while the other moms chatted about their moms' group and the YMCA and where they all lived and whose kids knew whose kids and where they got their shoes (okay, I'm kidding about the shoes... I think) we mostly talked to each other about the preschool and then talked a bit with a couple of other moms there about the kids and the preschool. I was really glad Cliff was there. I love that he was there. It did make me the odd one, the one whose husband was by her side (thank goodness).

But that's not even the start of it...   I may have already shared in great length and detail with one of my sisters my insecurities about the Moms already... and I won't go into too much detail here, but Cliff and I were already making jokes to eachother (to make us feel better about ourselves of course) about some of the other families. I had parked behind another Mom whose car was worth at least five times what mine is and I don't typically let money matters get to me, but I found myself feeling slightly intimidated by the thought that her sunglasses likely cost more than everything I was wearing, put together. I know that the shirt Gavin was wearing that day, an adorable striped soft green one, was from a garage sale a year or so ago, and I love that shirt! Okay, I'm feeling guilty already for writing this all. For even thinking about it. I'm actually proud of my thriftiness (is that a word?). I am glad that I learned that you don't need to spend a lot of money on things to have nice things and I'm glad I've gotten as good at it as I have. I really am. So, this is not about money. Talking about money is worse than talking about politics in my opinion. I wish money didn't even exist! That said, I am really comfortable with the way that we live and I love where we are in life!

I did still feel like an outsider, however. As the other Moms came in to the classroom for open house, there were hugs all around and "Hi! How ARE yooooou?"s and I felt like I missed the sign-up for the mom's club or something. Oh wait, I did! I didn't actually miss the sign up. But many of them ARE part of a mom's group. My own lifestyle and therefore my decision to not participate in a Mom's group is why I'm not part of the club. ...and no I didn't conciously decide to not be part of a Mom's group, it just doesn't seem to be something that would work well for our family... or for me. Maybe it's just me. I don't like having too many commitments (or any, really). I always think I should join a group, get involved at church, join a choir, take a class... but I don't want to have to be anywhere. I'm sure if I did one of those things I'd know more people. Truth? I have a good number of REALLY good friends. Friends I count on. Friends I love. Friends I need. I'm comfortable with the friends that I have, who they are, and what I give and get out of these friendships. I don't really thrive with a lot of acquaintances. You're sort of in my club or out of my club I guess and I don't mean that to sound rude or stand-off-ish at all! I simply am content with what I have ...and I know this isn't true, but I FEEL like I don't have time for any more stuff.

So... I felt like I was 13 again, walking into a school full of ALL NEW PEOPLE, where I didn't know anyone. I honestly had that inkling of fear that no one would like me, before I realized that was what I was feeling and pulled myself out of the funk. I had to think about it for awhile and actually address the 13-year old girl inside me who was feeling all self-conscious and worried about what people were thinking of her. This was about Gavin, not me. And seriously? At this point in my life, what on EARTH am I doing worrying about what people will think of me? I sure thought I had more self assurance than that! I think I used to. Over the past couple of years, I have felt more and more like I am being judged by others and I am beginning to believe that it's me, not them. I think I'm feeling more doubt because I'm feeling less of a sense of purpose and I wonder if that's because I'm NOT doing all those things I really enjoy doing... like singing in a choir, taking time to draw, paint, create, going camping and hunting and spending time in the wilderness. Seems like maybe I've stopped taking time to do some of what made me feel like me and now I am questioning who I am. Somehow, that seems linked to me feeling like others are judging me.
So... back to the other parents... not ALL of the moms knew each other. There are 9 kids in Gavin's class. A couple of the Moms didn't seem to know most of the others, but many did. I think four or five all knew eachother really well and I learned that some of them do the moms group there at the church where the preschool is. That explains a lot. Our sweet friend who knew many of them introduced us to several and she is so great at making everyone feel welcome and included. She has a real gift for connecting with people I think! I just don't have that warm, sweet and outgoing personality that seems to work so well in these kinds of situations. I struggle a bit with thinking I should try to be more sweet, outgoing, and bubbly, but then if I do, isn't that trying to be someone I'm not? More on that later...

Back to feeling like I don't have time for more stuff...

As you likely know, I worked full time, an hour away from home, for a long time. Forever, actually. Well, since before I was married and I've been married for ten years. So, with a 9+ hour work day, and at least an hour in the car on each end, I was "gone" for work for at least 11 hours a day. That didn't leave time for Mom's groups, art classes, or choir practices. I treasured the little bit of "downtime" that I had.

It's been almost a year now since I accepted my current job and made the transition from full-time, 1+ hour commute each way, and relatively stressful work to my current part-time, 12-minute commute each way, stress-free work. I love the change. I had wanted more hours in the new job, but so far that hasn't worked out. So, I work 2 days each week now. I haven't really learned how to BE a "stay-at-home mom". I don't know what to do with our days. I haven't joined any Mom's groups (although maybe I will now with baby #2), I haven't taken Gavin to a play group, story time at the library, or any day-time activities other than trips to the park to play on the playground or to feed the ducks or to the beach or pool. 

I haven't yet signed up for a class, joined a choir or a book club or otherwise done what I think "stay-at-home-moms" must do. So, I'm still a little behind the curve there. I think some of this is because I'm a bit of a home-body... in a way. I love being at home, but I get bored / lonely pretty easily. I go stir-crazy if I have to go more than a couple of days without really leaving home.  I do like being at home, but I also like having people around - I just prefer people come over to my house and visit! I know, that's pretty selfish.

I was raised in a house where we didn't do a lot of running around. There were a lot of us (I have 9 siblings), but there was also always work to be done around the house and yard and there was a lot of un-structured play. We played in the woods, in the gardens, we built forts, dug in the dirt, and used our imaginations. We didn't really go places. I think this is part of why I think it's important to spend your free time together as a family and not running all over town to this practice and that rehearsal and this activity and that event. That may change for us now that Gavin is getting older and will have more opportunities to get involved in things. We'll see what this preschool year (and this new baby) brings. Maybe we'll all find just the right balance!

Wish us luck!


april said...

Hey, you ARE sweet and those Moms will be lucky if you decide to let them into your club! :)
And hooray for un-structured play time. Kids need more of that cause I know some who never had it, and they cannot entertain themselves at all. Gavin's a lucky kid to have parents like you! :)

Erin J said...

Thank you April - your words are so kind! I'm so glad you're in my club even though we don't get together as often as we'd like sometimes. I always love it.