Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

So the last day of preschool is this week and I have mixed feelings about it. We chose to put Bisky in a Co-Op Preschool, which means that I have volunteered in the classroom once a week for the school year. I don’t quite know the words to describe this, so let me list a few, pretty much in the order I experienced them.

  • Anxiety
  • Horror
  • Boredom
  • Irritation
  • Fondness
  • Enthusiasm
  • Admiration
  • Love

Co-Op preschool is one of those things that I idealized when I was working full time and didn’t think would be an option. Because I secretly felt guilty that I couldn’t be part of it, I convinced myself that it was unnecessary and that a ton of kids go to daycare full time since practically birth so why on earth couldn’t my kid thrive at preschool for just 2 and a half hours twice a week without me? And then, even when I started consulting, the boys were so small and napped right at that time that the preschool block of time was the perfect time to really devote some time to writing my next book. Unless you have a bunch of really small kids you will

not understand the siren call of the coveted TWO HOURS of time just for you. And then there’s the fact that I don’t particularly consider myself a kid person. I used to, but then I wasn’t around them for oh, about 40 years, so I find it a little hard to relate now. My kids are different of course and I (usually) enjoy their company just fine. But they are not your average kids, I like to think.

All that to say, I was totally ambivalent about the whole co-op thing going into it. As I’ve mentioned before though, my parenting strategy and philosophy pre-kid and after have radically changed as have my priorities (pretty much totally against my will!). Before Bisky, my identity was 100% based on my career, my relationship and my spiritual walk. I thought my kids would just fit into the puzzle and would need to adjust to my life and goals. I didn’t believe that there was much value I, personally, could bring to the table as a full time stay at home Mom or that I would find it remotely fulfilling.

I remember when Bisky was about 3 months old and it was time to go back to work; just looking at her and feeling like I wasn’t ready – that SHE wasn’t. THIS was the only job in the world that ONLY I could do and this little baby needed ME. And it sucked because I didn’t know what I was doing, I was bored out of my mind half the time and I missed doing the things I was good at. So I went back, but with an agreement that I would work from home 3 days a week. Then the twins came, and that was a game changer! Suddenly my former career was no longer an option and I was straddling the world of stay at home mom AND entrepreneur consultant. Both of these roles by the way, require 100% of one’s time and energy so the end result is most of the time I feel like I’m half-assing whatever I’m doing.

Enter Co-Op Preschool. I was worried going into it that I’d be old enough to be the other mommies’ mommy, that I wouldn’t be able to relate to the kids, and that I’d feel left out because all the other mommies were full time at home and did play dates and stuff for their kids and knew that you were supposed to get the teacher presents for all the holidays. As it turned out, all of that was true and I felt like a total clod much of the time and during the last half hour of ‘free choice play’ I typically wanted to slit my own throat, only the scissors in preschool aren’t pointy enough.

But something happened and eventually I stopped expecting myself to be like what I thought everyone else’s version of perfect was. No, I did not bring in 30 hand-made valentines for all of Bisky’s schoolmates and a beautiful and charming Christmas gift (or any gift…oops) for Miss Molly (although she really deserved it and I know now for next year) and I will ALWAYS loathe free choice play time. But. I also have forty (plus) years of life under my belt that allow me to not take myself so seriously. I am good with being goofy with the kids and I actually enjoy it when they want to snuggle on my lap (maybe because it’s the softest, sqooshiest lap).  I found myself really, really grateful to know all these little personalities and genuinely looking forward to spending time with them. I love it when the shy ones open up and when the crazy ones get too loud because they’re having so much fun. Even the kid who has to pee EVERY TEN SECONDS is kind of sweet.

So I’m actually kind of sad that the year is over. Not only will I miss the little midgets but you wouldn’t BELIEVE how complicated next year can get. Pre-K!! 2-day or 4-day? Does Bisky ‘need’ to get used to going to school all the time so that Kindergarten isn’t a huge shock, or do I keep her at home with me as much as possible so we can go do silly things as much as possible (you can probably guess which way I’m leaning on this one). Do we sign up the twins for pre-school? If I do, can my life really accommodate TWO DAYS a week in the classroom? My head is telling me Hell to the NO…but that’s what I thought this year and I wouldn’t miss a thing. Juggle, juggle juggle…that’s what it’s all about, right?

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