I Am Not Sad About My Kids Growing Up

And not every mom marks the passing of time with an emotional post on social media.
ByBoomdash
Boomdash
Updated
Sep 2017
toddler standing next to young child seated at desk
Photo: Aileen Reilly

The following story, “I Am Not Sad About My Kids Growing Up” by Lyz Lenz was originally published on Boomdash.

Last year, when my oldest child went to kindergarten, I sat in the parking lot on the first day of school and I didn’t cry. I thought about crying. A few other moms had cried in the classroom and in the hall as we left. I smiled, trying to register an emotional look on my face. But really, I just wanted to leave.

Sitting in the parking lot, I felt defective. Did I need to cry? Did I want to cry? Was something wrong with me? I searched my soul and found nothing but relief. So, I stopped thinking about it and got coffee, went home, and started working.

This year I didn’t cry at the first day of school either, which marked the passage of my children into first grade and pre-k. I don’t cry at graduations. I don’t cry on birthdays. Instead, I embrace the relief. Every passing year means things are a little easier. My kids can put on shoes and rinse dishes. I can leave them alone while I pee. Sure, I miss chubby baby wrists, but I love sleeping all night.

Every fall, mothers are overwhelmed with sentimental blog posts and pictures of kids holding signs with captions declaring shock at the passage of time.

While women are allowed and have the right to feel their feelings and publicly display them in whatever manner they deem necessary, the overwrought nature of back-to-school sentimentality is more than just a moment of mourning for our babies-no-more—it’s a cultural trope that reinforces repressive ideals of motherhood.

No other occupation, even fatherhood, became as twisted up in the emotional and spiritual attachments of human relationships. So many of my friends have quit their jobs because home is more fulfilling and children are their most important job. Which, that may be true for them. But in doing so, these women are celebrated and lauded as selfless. There are no Hallmark cards for women who gleefully profess to find their work to be emotionally fulfilling. There are no “showers” when you achieve your dream job. I’m not the first to point this out. And I won’t be the last until it changes.

Related Video

But this isn’t about creating a dichotomy of women who are sad at the beginning of school versus the women who are happy. Life is not a binary. Both things are allowed to be true. And she who has never wistfully remembered a pudgy baby snuggle while fighting with a first grader over whether it’s okay to call people “poopfaces” can cast the first stone. But our grief rituals over back-to-school are located in the forced sentimentality of motherhood, which keeps us chained to the myth that our identities are located within the output of our uterus and not who we are as people.

Before children, I loved the ritual of back-to-school. And with children, I love it still. Because it marks a new year with new skills and new freedoms for me. It also marks the overwhelming privilege of having two kids who are learning and growing…and will one day be able to make dinner for themselves.

More From Boomdash:

10 Adorable First Day of Preschool Photos

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor

Chrissy Teigen's Back-to-School Confession Brought Out the Best Mom Comments

Laurie Ulster
Contributing Writer
Published
08/21/2018

Kids Share Hurricane Irma Stories in 6 Words

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
09/18/2017

Why You Shouldn’t Phase Your Big Kids Out of Midday Naps, Study Says

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
06/03/2019

Mom's Hilarious Parody Video Sums Up Kindergarten Parent-Teacher Conferences

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/31/2018

This State Wants to Enforce a School Dress Code for Parents

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
01/29/2019

Mom’s Back-to-School Nightmare: Bus Driver Forgets 5-Year-Old on Bus

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/31/2018

Study: 'Sesame Street' Can Help Your Kid Reach Success in School and Work

Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
03/21/2019

Get Child Ready for Preschool?

Jeanette Sawyer Cohen, PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychology in pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City
Pediatric Psychologist
6 slides

Preschool Supplies You’ll Want to Snatch Up

Elena Donovan Mauer
Contributing Writer

This Is Where We’re Slacking in Preschool Education

Anisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
09/28/2017