And We Have A First Grader! – Thoughts From A Mama

As I quietly sneak out of Austin’s room after staying with him until he falls asleep, I sit down to write this and tears are already flowing down my cheeks. My first born son, my 6 year old little man, my sweet Austin boy, my love bug, will be heading off to his first day of 1st grade tomorrow and no one in the house is ready for it! Transitions were never an easy thing for Austin, nor is breaking routine. He stayed at home for 14 months after he was born with his grandparents helping to watch him while Marvin and I went off to work. I still remember the first day we dropped him off at daycare, the fear on his face, the confusion, the loud crying I will never forget. Will he be OK? Will he ever stop crying? Did we do the right thing? Was it too soon or was it too late?  A quick call to the daycare later that day and thank goodness he had stopped crying by then. 😉 Each day, the cries were quieter and shorter until he realized this was his new normal and routine. 

Fast forward a few years, and he was always the type of boy that it would take forever to warm up to a new situation. At birthday parties, he would always cling to us for dear life and finally warm up to what the other kids were doing by the time we had to leave. Some kids just have more separation anxiety and shyness than others, he’ll grow out of it was always our thought. And to an extent, he did as time went on. When he was 2.5 years old and I was 7 months pregnant, we made the move from Kansas City, MO to Salt Lake City, UT and fear set in for all of us. New city, new house, new daycare, and new soon to be sister. Mind you, this was all around the time that he was potty training too – so that actually had to be put to the back burner. Every night, Marvin or I would sleep next to him on the floor to comfort and ease him into his new room in our new house. Little did we know that renting a house with a master bedroom on the main floor and kids rooms on the 2nd floor when they are so young was not the wisest of ideas. We figured by the time his sister was born, he’d maybe be ready to sleep on his own or with a shorter tuck in period? But once his sister arrived and having a newborn in the house again, no one was sleeping for awhile. Fast forward a few years, 6 months of house hunting later, and we finally have our house where the bedrooms are all on the same level and we are in a school district we are happy with!

Austin will be in the Dual Immersion Chinese Program at his school and while placed in the lottery we ended up #1 on the waitlist, you can imagine how excited I was when I got the call that he had landed a spot in the program. As a second generation Asian-American (both Marvin and I), we have completely failed our duties in teaching our children Chinese. Only when their grandparents come to visit, do the kid’s get a crash course in Chinese. So I’m more than grateful to know that he will be learning Chinese at his school! I can’t wait for the day that he knows more Chinese than his Daddy (or me)! 😉 But being an Asian-American non-LDS student in Utah does give me some worry. The population is not as diverse as I am used to as in my upbringing in Michigan. There was always a strong Asian community and I don’t feel that we have that here, although I am trying to find one! What worries me most is Austin not being Mormon (LDS) and how that will affect his schooling, how others will treat him, and if he will feel left out. I’m completely naive to it all and could be totally wrong, but my hunch is that elementary school won’t be that bad… but I’ve heard that in high school, those that are LDS will have separate classes than those that are not. I have no clue if this is true, but have just heard that from a few sources. I don’t know the effects that this has on students growing up in Utah, but as a mama, I worry about these things and how it will affect my already shy and slow to warm up sweet tender loving boy. I guess only time will tell… and again this is all here say and I don’t know all the truths about the Utah educational system but I’m sure I’ll learn it soon. Many of you have asked me to write my thoughts on living in Utah and I guess here’s a glimpse of it, but I’ll share more thoughts later, probably a topic for another post!

Back to the now, another difficulty that we will be facing is that his current daycare does not bus to the school, which means breakfast will be at home now and we’ve got to teach him how to make his own. We’ve also made a decision to have Austin come home after school, which means there’s a 2 hour window where Marvin and I are working our full time jobs with our son at home. We’ve done the whole working from home while kids are sick at home gig before and it’s NEVER good. You feel like the absolute worst employee and the worst mom ever trying to split your attention. When I grew up, I was taken to before and after care at the school, and I don’t know if this is Utah specific thing not to have it at the school, but it’s different. Sure, there are other daycares that do bus to the school and we could consider that, but I guess we’ll see how things go. As a working mom in Utah, I always feel like I’m living a different parallel than most moms here. Many are stay at home moms or are entrepreneurs or bloggers who do their jobs, while having their kids at home. As they have spent all day long with their kiddos in the Summer, and the school year is when they have some separation from their kids, we will be the opposite. The school year will actually be when Austin will be home more vs. Summers he would go to full time daycare. And Vivian? She will have a hard time being at daycare and at drop off and pickup without him. Normally the two of them would be together at the end of the day waiting for us to get them, but I can see her being sad and lonely without him. 🙁 But this is all a new normal we will need to adjust to, and I know we’ll make it all work!

As Austin was picking his fingers (nervous habit) while trying to sleep tonight, I could feel all the anxious, scared, excited emotions going through his body. His kindergarten teachers always pretty much gave him excellent marks for reading, math, etc. and say that he has such a kind heart. He will always lend a helping hand to a friend, and just as powerful as his shirt says, he would be the first one to reach out to another to say “Sit With Me” at lunch time, I just know it. And when it’s time to buckle down, he will be heads down trying to be the first one to finish his work accurately and quickly. I know without a doubt that he will do well in school, be a good student and make friends easily. Sure, there may be days where he comes home more irritated or angry because he can’t handle all his emotions, but first weeks of school and all the change are never easy for anyone, right? I think what’s most important for me as a mama is to validate his emotions and worries and help him through them. That’s the best I can do for him as I can’t be there by his side every step of the way.

Now, this helicopter mama just can’t forget to pack his school supplies and make sure he brings his lunch every morning!


  1. Paula
    August 22, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    Hi Sandy, I’m a recent follower of your instagram and blog; mostly for the fashion tips. I’m a mom of three, but in my 50’s with the youngest in college and one grandson. So, the mom things don’t pertain to me anymore and I just kinda watch and admittedly, sometimes I skip over the mom stuff. But today was different. I’ve thought all day on your story about sending your firstborn off to school. I’ve been a working mom all of my adult life – in an office setting, in a small town with some family close by. My firstborn was a daughter – clingy, shy and did not adapt well to new settings. My MIL kept her for the first 14 months, then daycare happened. She cried everyday until about age 3 then her brother came along and she became his ‘other’ mommy. Then school happened. I was not able to park and take her in to school. I sat in a drop-off line – some days she refused to get out of the car, some days she just cried. But we had some tough talks and she eventually figured it out. Then little brother started to school; she became his guide. Then, another little brother happened and she became daddy’s little girl. Eventually she became like another mother to both of her brothers and a great helper to me. In high school she became the best defensive volleyball player at 5 foot 2. In college, she graduated at the top of her nursing class and was the keynote student speaker at her nursing class graduation. I was never a helicopter/hover mother as you described yourself, I tried to teach my children to be their own advocate letting them know I would step in when needed or requested-or if I felt I needed to step in I just did. On a side note-I stepped in a lot during the teenage years.

    I’m not here to give you any advice, just a perspective from another parent. And kids are pretty resilient, kinda like their parents. They will grow up and you will marvel at what they accomplish.

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