Friday, September 12, 2008

On Being Advanced Preschool Mom Age

Preschool is a big thing at our house. Preschool? Yes, preschool.

All of the kids started preschool before their 2nd birthdays. Preschool? Yes, preschool, co-op preschool to be exact.

Now co-op preschool is not like regular preschool where you feed your kid a healthy breakfast (Pop Tart in the car) before depositing said child into the loving arms of a team of dedicated professionals before partaking in a few hours of "alone time" a few days a week. Oh, no co-op preschool is w-o-r-k. Parents have to stay, parents have to help, parents have to serve on boards and make decisions.

I have 4 cumulative years of co-op preschool (2 of which were served as a board member) under my mommy belt (nevermind the muffin top) and I could not be happier that those days are in the past.

Being able to drop my daughter off for her 3rd year of preschool makes me happier than I can describe. Seeing her, more confident than last year, spring forth from my hug and prance off to wash her hands all by herself places the most enormous of smiles on my face. And not just because I now have 2.5 child-free hours (2 if you count the commute), but because I am truly happy that she loves it so much.

I see the other moms there, hovering just outside of the gate, most of them with babies slung on their hips. They nervously observe, quietly wait until they are absolutely sure that their preschooler is okay, before walking slowly towards their cars.

Me, I'm out of there in a flash, saying a quick "good morning" to the group of younger moms before getting in my car and turning up the radio far too loud for preschooler ears. They can't do this yet, they still have babies.

I remember when my oldest was in preschool for the first time, I felt like an outcast. I was 24 pushing 25 and each and every mother was older than me by 10 years (until I recruited Linda to join, then it was a bit more even). Despite my marriage, college education and experience in childcare, they made me feel so incredibly out of place.

I stayed, for 2 years and through the birth of our 2nd baby, because I believed the experience for my child was worth it. But they never, not even when I was on the board, ever let up making me feel less than equal to them, as a mother.

I remember when the boys were able to attend preschool together for one year, because my oldest was on the young end of the spectrum and my youngest was on the older end of the spectrum, things were a bit easier. But still, the cold rush of air felt from the shoulders of the "older" mothers was as plain as day. And I vowed to never be like them, never.

I had my 3rd child when I was 30. Still, not ancient by any means, but much older than I was when I had the boys. Our first co-op preschool experience was vastly different than before, I looked around the crowded play room and saw that these moms were . . . just about the same age as I was! I saw that these moms were . . . not unfriendly or superior acting in any way, they were . . . just like me. There were even a few who were . . . younger. Shudder!

Now, as I find myself on the, a'hem, older side of all things regarding preschool, I know I am more confident, as a parent, than I was 10 years ago. I know I am more relaxed about some things based solely on the fact that we've experienced them already with my other kids. I know that she'll be okay and that I'll be okay - which doesn't mean that I don't miss her, because darn it, she is my baby.

But I simply don't care about standing around and discussing topics like Kindermusik and Gymobree, or who is going to the Touch a Truck event this weekend because, oh my gosh, that will be sooooo enriching!

Again, I'm on the outside. And, I'm perfectly fine with that because I've got 2 hours alone and I'm not going to waste it!

22 comments:

Carrie said...

Hurray for 2 hours alone! Enjoy!

OHmommy said...

I was 24 pushing 25 and each and every mother was older than me by 10 years . Despite my marriage, college education and experience in childcare, they made me feel so incredibly out of place.

YES! That was MY experience. I too was a co-op workaholic and my kids in school by 2. I loved the confidence it built.

We have A LOT in common.

Susan said...

Enjoy those 2 hours alone! I can hardly imagine what that would be like.

flutter said...

2 hours sounds lovely

creative-type dad said...

I wish I had 2 hours...

All Adither said...

My youngest just started preschool. She's having a hard go of it right now. Though I don't obsess about it nearly like I did when Fruit Bat started.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I belonged to coop affiliated with our Swim Club that was pre-preschool; 18 mos - 3 yrs. I was president for more years than I can count.

What made me very sad was that right after I left it had to be shut down and a paying program put in its place. The younger mothers couldn't be bothered to work one day a week--they just wanted to pay someone else to watch their kids. A 33 year old community institution was gone. Those mothers and those children lost so much.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

I gotta say when Laura went to preschool the first year (and for each school year thereafter) she walked in, got busy, and never looked back at me once. Now she's my third child, and there is 14 years difference between her and the last. In other words, I ought to be seasoned. But I stood there all, "Gosh. Can Mommy have a kiss goodbye?" And Laura (not looking back) was all, "Mommy who?" But because there was 14 years between her and the last one, I am pretty much on the outside too, even now that she's in 3rd grade. And I pretty much love it there too.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

OOOH! Beware the "Stepford Mommies"! :)


It would be a crime and a sin to waste your precious time!

BTW...I left you a message on my site.

AND...we don't have to agree on everything (political)...we can just agree to disagree! :)

Tracey said...

I was the young mom, too. I did feel out of place at times, but really? They may have been just extremely nervous. Or it may be that you forgot to wipe the baby oatmeal off of your face... Hmmmm. I WILL admit to shopping with my baby's boogers smeared across my cheek and onto my shirt... That had to be a bit offsetting to a few other mothers, don't you think?

Grim Reality Girl said...

Amen to celebrating two peaceful hours and AMEN to celebrating being on the outside. I like it better out here.... why did it take me so long to figure that out?

GoteeMan said...

sounds like WISDOM to me!

J/ (goteeman.blogspot.com)

Domestic Extraordinaire said...

With both of the girls I am the young mom. Even now when I do stuff at their schools I get the snub from the older mom's. They don't like my confidence, they don't like that I don't beg for their opinion, and I could go on and on.

When we moved to the burbs I was so excited to be a mom with friends and have lunches and coffees with other moms, now I just don't care. I enjoy my free time and of course I have all of you!!

gosh this comment got long. sorry.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I never linger at drop-off. NEVER. Those minutes are too precious.

jen said...

ah yes. i'd be right there behind you riding your bumper.

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I'm right there with ya! That two hours is HEAVEN!

Mrs. Tantrum said...

Co op sucks...not for the kids, but for the parents. You never get a break. And isn't school supposed to teach your kids that school is about learning from other people?

Wait...okay, that said I LOVE the drop off preschool. This is Bacon's 2nd year. This year he has the rainbow and sausage teacher not the cross eyed can't spell one. He begs to go, and wants to be dropped off at the door. Which is great!

I get 2 hours and 45 minutes alone. To surf the internet, drink coffee, and count down the days to KINDERGARTEN! (oh and i am the 32 year old mom...there are 2 of us over 30. the rest are 12...it is weird, but fun!)

painted maypole said...

oh, yes. working at a preschool I see all those different moms.

sadly, some of the parents are so eager to get rid of their children that even when the child is not comfortable and not doing well, they leave without a look back. When the parents are invited to come to a holiday party, the time at the gym is just too important to give up. I know of teachers who last year were the only class to not do a mother's day party, because they knew the mothers of their kids wouldn't show up.

oh, sorry. diatribe. when really what i meant to say was... 2 hours! enjoy. :) you deserve it, you good mom, you.

carrie said...

Maypole, Oh yes - those mothers are a different breed entirely.

Don't get me wrong, I love helping and attending and would never leave Katie if she weren't comfortable. But this is her 3rd year of preschool and the 1st year I didn't have to hold her hand back to the hand washing sink and then have a long drawn-out goodbye . . . and I am kinda feeling like it's about time! I've put in my dues, ya know?

Kimmylyn said...

Um.. Drop and run.. hahah.. sorry on Thursay's I have one day off to myself.. I drop the boys off and I run and enjoy every second of mommy free time I can..

Kevin Charnas said...

I bet those two hours were gold, huh?

Chris O said...

Yipee! Out of babyjail as my friends call it. I've been mommying for 27 years now and my youngest just became a teenager. Whole different set of worries from the preschool days. I think motherhood is the only job you have that there is no retirement from but the benefits are worth the lifelong commitment.