I almost had an anxiety attack one morning last week. I felt it coming, and I’m so thankful for my experience in therapy because I knew what was coming and was able to prevent it. Major win.
The past few weeks have been pretty stressful. Our new nanny quit, leaving me to figure out what to do with the twins. Do I get another nanny? An au pair? Officially send them to preschool even though I hadn’t planned on doing that until next year? Stay home with them full-time? Definitely not.
Basically since we moved, I had been researching, visiting, and observing preschools and classrooms. We even brought the twins to have play visits at a couple of schools. Two weeks ago, I finally found a preschool that I felt would be the best fit for our family at this time, and had plans to officially start the twins this week.
I had a chat with the director and teachers about transitioning the twins with me being there for an hour or two for the first few days, because I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving them in a new environment with teachers and classmates they had never met before. I explained that the twins usually take about a week to get used to a new person or place, and that we have had a system going for about a year now (we do a kiss, high-five, and fist bump), and as long as they got those 3 things, they are always totally fine with me leaving. The director and teachers were thrilled that we had a system for separating and agreed that it would be great for me to stay a couple of hours for one week to transition the twins.
So last Monday and Tuesday, I went to preschool with the twins and stayed with them for 2 hours. After we left on Tuesday, I received an email from the director, asking if I would like to leave the twins at school on Wednesday and see how they would do without me since it seemed like they were already doing great.
*Immediate panic and anxiety.*
Thoughts in my head:
“But it’s only been 2 days, 4 total hours! That can’t possibly be enough time for them to feel comfortable enough.”
“Did I say or do something while I was there that caused them to not want me in there anymore?”
“But what if something happens? What if they get hurt? What if their needs aren’t met?”
“What if someone isn’t paying enough attention to my son’s food allergies?”
“What if they can’t care for them as well as I can?”
“How are they going to feel comfortable going to the bathroom with strangers?”
Wednesday rolled around, and as I kept thinking about whether or not I was doing the right thing, the more I thought about just dropping them off, the more anxiety began to build. I felt it in my chest and I realized I was about to have an anxiety attack. I breathed several deep breaths, and reached out to some of my closest confidants, ones who have been with me in the trenches, supporting me as I went through prenatal and/or postpartum anxiety and depression.
They assured me, first of all, that everything I was feeling was normal, and that most if not all moms feel the way I feel at some point. They helped me see that my anxiety was triggered by my lack of control in the situation, since I wasn’t the one calling the shots. I had compared this preschool situation with my experience with nannies, recalling that I never had anxiety leaving my children with a nanny. But then again, I was always the one making the decision to stay at home or leave the house. I was always in control.
One of the most helpful pieces of advice I received was when my dear friend told me to think back to the time when I visited the school and all the reasons why I decided to choose this particular preschool. She suggested thinking about the feelings I had toward the school as a whole and the excitement I felt when I met the teachers who would be in the twins’ classroom.
My friends also mentioned there could have been a possibility that the teachers felt me being there was disruptive, and as a result maybe even holding the twins back. (I appreciate such honesty and directness SO MUCH.) Boy did that light a fire under my butt because as a teacher, I would never want to be a classroom disruption, and as a Mom, I would never want to be the reason my children cannot achieve something.
I realized that I wasn’t ready to relinquish my control of the situation, but I sure as heck didn’t want to get in the way of whatever progress was being made. So as I sat in my car and put on my big girl pants by officially deciding to drop the twins off at preschool and leave, I cried.
I never understood why Moms cried when they sent their kids to school. I thought it would be more like THANK GOD YOU CAN GO BE SOMEONE ELSE’S PROBLEM FOR A FEW HOURS. And believe me, part of me felt that way. But the other part of me was emotional because I was scared of letting go.
I was scared of trusting someone else, basically strangers, to take full responsibility of my children.
I was scared of what would happen if I wasn’t there when the twins needed me.
I was scared of the twins feeling like I abandoned them.
I was scared of the teachers not knowing how to care for them the way I care for them.
I was scared of not knowing how it would all pan out.
But you know what? My friends told me this and I’m reminding myself of it. It’s all going to be okay. There will be a transition period. There will be anxiety. There will be fear. There will be tears. There will be crying. There may even be screaming, and it may not be easy. But in the end, everyone will be okay. I will be okay, my daughter will be okay, my son will be okay, and we will all have grown from the experience and learn lessons we wouldn’t have otherwise.
Here’s to another new chapter in our lives.
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