That time of year is back. The time of year mothers around the country are breathing a sigh of relief as they see free time returning in their future. The time of year where we smile at the smell of paper and sharpened pencils. That time of year where we stock up on crayons, scissors and erasers. It is Back To School Time! Yes!
My daughter spent the first half of summer in camp and these last remaining 3 weeks with both sets of grandparents and a good friend of hers. Even she knew it was time to go back and she couldn’t wait. The words, “Can I sleep in my own bed tonight?” murmuring from her mouth as she yearned to be home and not shuffled about due to her parents work schedules. She wants to return to normalcy. She can’t wait to go back to school (which started Monday, August 29th). She misses her school friends dearly and wants to catch up with them and gossip. I mean what prepubescent girl doesn’t?!
This is her year! She’s a 5th Grader, one of the rulers of the school. My baby is in her last year of elementary school and while this has me teary-eyed, she is ecstatic. I am already picturing me sobbing at her Moving Up Ceremony at the end of the school year and she hasn’t even quite begun yet. My tears are for her and for missing a school I have come to love. The Teachers, the Principal, the Vice Principal, Staff, Custodians and fellow parents… they have truly made these years wonderful for her. But, I will put off my sobs until that time comes.
Back to school time, the best time of year, isn’t it?!
As normal with my daughter’s school, we do not receive teacher assignments until about 2-3 days prior to the first day. I anxiously ran home after work checking our mailbox everyday last week. I was more excited than my daughter to find out who her teacher was. Nothing Monday, or Tuesday or Wednesday. For sure it would be in the mailbox on Thursday, right?! I grew nervous, my Generalized Anxiety Disorder was elevating. Where the f*ck is it?! I came home Thursday and got excited when I saw a few envelopes sitting by my chair at the dining room table. It’s here, I can feel it! I picked up the stack… thumbed through the envelopes and said:
“You’ve got to be f*cking kidding me!”
At this point, I was extremely worried. A typical person would just brush this off telling themselves it will come tomorrow or Saturday. Worst case, she goes to school Monday and asks in the office. But, I am far from typical. My Anxiety ALWAYS plays out the worst scenario. What was the worst scenario? I already imagined Monday morning coming. My daughter would get to the school, the school she grew up in where many teachers and administrators knew her by name, only to find out that they had forgotten her. I imagined them checking their list and discovering her name not on it. Then I pictured her freaking out (she has GAD too). After that, I would get the panicked phone call as the school scrambled to find a class for her, meanwhile she being too anxious and overwhelmed to calm down. As this played out in my head, I had quite the anxiety attack that night with hyperventilation and muscle tenseness.
“They forgot her. How could they forget her?! She’s been is this school for years!”
My husband looked at me and muttered, “Stop. You know they didn’t forget her. Do you need me to help with breathing exercises?” (He knows his wife well.)
I debated taking an Ativan but I am trying coping skills that are not medication as I am attempting to slowly wean off the Ativan. How have we not received her teacher assignment yet? Everyone else we know got theirs! Desperate, I decided to abuse my PTO position. This will be my 3rd year as PTO Treasurer and my 6th being a member of the PTO. I texted my neighbor who is PTO President and asked for the Principal’s phone number. After receiving his number, I texted him. He was concerned and told me to call the office the next day.
I did one better.
Friday, the PTO was sponsoring a “Welcome Back” Staff Appreciation Breakfast. I volunteered in the morning before work helping to set up. I had a goal in mind. I was not leaving the building until I got my daughter’s teacher. I was still fully convinced they forgot her and I would rather that play out in front of me than in front of her on Monday. Stupid Anxiety Disorder! If I had to, I would go into work late. It was close to 8:00am when someone noticed the Vice Principal walking by. She stopped in to check out the spread and I ceased my opportunity.
I grabbed her attention and asked if she could tell me my daughter’s teacher. She said, “Sure,” and we walked to the office. I admit, I was getting nervous. Confirming the spelling of my last name (she knows me because of PTO), she scoured the list.
“She has Mr. Fairchild,” she said, and with that I breathed naturally for the first time in almost 24 hours.
One thought on “When ‘Back-To-School’ Time Is ‘Back-To-Anxiety’ Time”
It’s the unknowns that make back-to-school such a hard time – and what anxiety thrives on! Glad – for both of you – that one hurdle has been cleared!