We had a momentous occasion in my home this week: My last child started middle school. I was excited for him because he was starting at a new school where nobody knew him as someone’s little brother and he could create his own identity. The school has a small class size where he can be challenged academically. Then came the first day of school.

However, all the things experts suggest that parents do to have an easy and smooth morning for the first day, I failed to do. I felt like I flunked the first day of school. You may be thinking it couldn’t be that bad, but yes – yes, it was THAT bad.

First, we were out of town until the day before school began, so I felt rushed to get everything done in his room like setting up his desk. Then, since he had a growth spurt during the summer, the shorts I bought (thinking they would fit) didn’t fit when he tried them on! So… I had to search for uniform shorts. Oh, and then I had to run to the grocery store for lunchbox items (yes, we are taking lunch every day).

Enter Monday morning. I wake up early, go to his room and say, “Wake up, Sunshine; it’s a brand new day.” He turns over and says, “Mom, I’m still tired.” I reply, “Yes, you are probably tired because you didn’t go to sleep until 11:00 p.m.” And things went south from there.

We finally get to the school. We find his classroom and see everyone at their lockers. In my mind, I’m thinking, “I haven’t used a locker in eons.” We struggled to open his locker combination until another parent offered to help us. We eventually get his locker opened and place all his things inside. I give him a hug and say, “Have a great day!” But on the inside, I feel like a failure.

I go through the day worried about how things are going for him. Is he being bullied? Did he ever figure out the locker combination? What if he hates this school?

Enter Monday afternoon. I pick him up. He gets in the car.

“How was your day?” I asked.

“GREAT!” he says.  

“What was great about it?”

“I am now an expert on my locker. This school makes it easy to be good.”

As we were driving home, I was SO relieved. Did I do everything perfectly? NO. Was I frustrated? Yes. Was I a failure as a MOM? Absolutely NOT. As moms, we are so hard on ourselves. We often suffer from the curse of comparison where we look at other moms and they seem to make it look so easy while we struggle. What I’ve learned from this is that it’s important to be kind to myself, to stop seeking perfection and just be a PRESENCE in my child’s life. That’s way more important than being perfect.

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