The First Day of School

September 10, 2018

A picture is worth a thousand words.
I promised you all an account of our very bad, no good, horrible first day of school. 

I'll sum it up like this: Coco threw a massive fit over a backpack that was really hideous and poor quality that J and I wouldn't let her have. (Weeell, it would be more accurate to say that we wouldn't let her keep it. Because I had been wimpy enough in the face of a lot of crying and whining in the middle of Target a few days before to buy it in the first place, with the caveat that we would take it home and "see what Daddy thinks." Fail.) Nothing went as planned. I wound up driving her to school instead of walking, which I had really been looking forward to. And just when I had arrived back home from taking Theo to his school and thought it was all over, they called to say that he had thrown up all over the playground and I had to go straight back. But it gets worse! I got there just in time to see quite plainly that Theo was also suffering from diarrhea. There were lots of tears on the first day of school, mostly my own. And I didn't even manage to get a first-day-of-school photo. :(

But Coco's teacher did! Obviously Coco did not remain upset for long. :)
On the one hand, I have to share the honest truth because I do not want to be part of the social media conspiracy that makes motherhood look like all cupcakes and roses. When I share this less-than-perfect day, it might make others who may have had a rotten first day feel less alone. And that is important because it is no joke that there is a lot of pressure when you see everyone else's perfect first-day photos plastering Instagram! 

Coco: day two. Theo: sick.
But on the other hand, at some point honesty becomes sort of depressing. We don't go on Instagram or read blogs for a dose of depressing reality - we have newspapers for that! ;) We read blogs and go on Instagram because we want to be inspired and to see things and read things that will give us ideas to live more beautifully. I'm trying to strike a sort of keeping-it-real balance here but I have no idea if I'm even close.

Coco: scooting to day three. Mama and Theo: walking! Also, backpack.
I'm glad I stayed firm and set good limits. 
So here's what I learned on the first day of school: When it comes to parenting, it is so important to let go of perfectionism (particularly when it comes to milestones!) and to be mindful of how we frame things. So, instead I'll sum up our first day like this: 
  • It can be very hard to set limits with our children sometimes.
  • Not everything always goes to plan, and that's okay because we can be flexible. 
  • Sickness always arrives at the most inconvenient moment! 
  • Crying is a great release. 
  • Coco will get such a kick out of their first-day-of-school photo some day - and Theo looks positively adorable spacing out, most likely because he has a fever no one yet knows about!

Honestly, what can you do?! I hope you had a wonderful first day of school wherever you are. And if you didn't have a wonderful first day of school, please share in the comments. Obviously this is a safe space. No judgment here! 

PS - If you're curious, Coco's backpack that we finally agreed upon can be found here. And the awful one that she initially wanted ("What is that? A backpack for strippers?!" J said when he saw it) can be found here. ;)

PPS - The best reaction to the first-day-of-school photo, from Coco's godmother in Switzerland. (I had sent the photo with the caption, "I'm the worst mother on earth.")
I have no idea what you're talking about. Looks like a typical day to me.
Goddamn they are both adorable!
Her jean jacket is awesome.

So there you have it, folks. Let go of perfectionism, be mindful of how you frame things, and get by with a little help from your friends! 

Join the conversation!

  1. we have this amazing halloween photo when my son was 5. he so badly wanted to be a robot. he worked a few weekends with his daddy on it and it was amazing! 2 minutes after he put it on to go trick-or-treating he cried hysterically on the front lawn. we decided to snap the photo anyway because, well, that photo perfectly summer our child at that moment in his life!

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    1. This is so relatable! I'm laughing and crying inside at the same time. Thank you for sharing, Stefanie! xo

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  2. I vote for keeping it real on social media! I always appreciate and come back to your blog because you seem approachable and bring up the positive and the challenging!

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    1. Thanks, Marianne! I feel like I totally nailed it. You made my day. xo

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  3. Oh, keep it real! We had the nightmare first day too. Eli had to be physically escorted from his class because he tripped out when we had to leave. He sounded like he was being amputated without anesthesia...and I cried in the parking lot. LOL.

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    1. OMG. That sounds pretty awful. Thank you for sharing! Three cheers for keeping it real. xoxo

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  4. I had the same thought as their Godmother when I saw the photo -- goddamn those are gorgeous kids! I've always been in the "keeping it real" camp. I find it less depressing to know we're not alone in our "failings." In fact, it makes them feel less like failings and more like life. Like our kids, it can be beautiful and messy at the same time. <3

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    1. “Less like failings and more like life.” Yes. Can we get that on a bumper sticker, please?! Or at least a post-it on the inside of my medicine cabinet? Thank you for that, Katie! Those words really resonate. xoxoxo

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