The First Day

Elke essays

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I must confess that I cry every year on the first day of school. Every single year.

Even now that my kids spend much of the summer bickering and missing their friends. Even now that I have a mountain of work that has piled up. Even now.

But I will also tell you this—my oldest’s first day of kindergarten just about killed me. I was shaking. I sort of held it together in front of him and then went home and cried. For about a month. I was terrified because he was so special, so sensitive, so small, so…mine. And really from that moment on, school was part of him, a part that wasn’t filtered or explained by me. It was coming at him and it was his to hold.

I stalked the school like a dumped teenager—drive by at recess, lingering to talk to the teacher every day, I was weepy and irrational. His teacher is lucky I didn’t make her a mixed tape to express myself. It would have been filled with break up music like Air Supply and Macy Grey’s “I try.”

I made pillows and painted my living room, which somehow was tied up in my head as a way to compartmentalize my grief (and really that is what it felt like—a permanent change had happened.) And we all survived, and after a while we thrived. But I won’t lie, I wanted to go grab him all day long for weeks. I wanted to change schools. I wanted to homeschool. I wanted to go back to the days I had wished away with “Once the kids are in school I will (fill in the blank).” But I stuck it out and honestly he was doing fine long before I was. I went, how do I say it? Mom-shit-crazy. It makes bat shit crazy look like a knock-knock joke.

Now we are gearing up for that same shy guy to start 5th grade. And guess what? He is no longer shy. He is the big kid in school. He is kind of dreamy according to the girls. He is funny, and fun and eager to see his friends.

And guess what again—I will cry. As always, but this time it is because I am bursting with pride at him, and me. And there is more than a little relief that I won’t have to say “stop wrestling” from 8:00-3:00.

So here’s to you, mamaloders, on the first day of school, be it your first heartbreak or another round. I’m there with you, mixed emotions and tissue in hand.

About the Author


Elke Govertsen is a entrepreneur and founder of Mamalode. She has been featured in Real Simple, Forbes, Where Women Create, Ad Tech, and listed as one of Origin Magazine's "Top 100 Creatives." She has been a speaker at The Girls Lounge, Adweek, C2Montreal, HATCH, TEDx and (her favorite) in classrooms. She speaks on a variety of topics from entrepreneurship to overcoming obstacles. She loves consulting in the areas of community design, storytelling and brand building. Her special skills include extreme bootstrapping, overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities. Of the many things she has learned by doing Mamalode, her ability to work with absolute chaos/kids/mess just might be the best. She is learning that slowing down creates more impact.

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