Being New

F*cking platform sandals.

The Big Girl Shoes I Can't Walk In

The Big Girl Shoes I Can’t Walk In

I had to have them. After three go-rounds with Zappos I thought I had finally found a pair that was stylish and that I could actually walk in. But, I tripped three times on the way to the new moms meeting for Sadie’s new pre-school.

Good thing those shoes were cute.

I tripped walked in late to the meeting. In the back of the room I saw groups of moms chatting, sipping coffee and laughing. I looked for the one mother I knew, but didn’t see her. That’s when I finally admitted to myself that I was scared shitless nervous.

How come it seemed like everyone already knew each other? I wasn’t that late. I spotted a table with name tags and headed over there to write my name with a black Sharpie pen that was as big as a rolling pin. I wrote slowly, stalling for time. Was I supposed to also include information about Sadie, the whole purpose for my existence in this room?  I looked at other moms’ name tags and saw they had written their children’s names and grades.

Good. I took more time hovering over my name tag while avoiding whatever was supposed to happen next.

Once properly identified in permanent marker, I took a deep breath. I reminded myself this was not sorority rush or a job interview. We were already in the school; our first tuition check cleared last week. I also reminded myself not to trip when I was ready to make my first move at socializing.

I tried to remember the last time I was alone in a new social situation. I had flashbacks of being a new kid in sixth grade– I trembled with fear and managed a meek smile when the teacher introduced me. Everyone stared at me, but I survived until recess when Melissa Z. and Jennifer A. asked me to play with them.

I chided myself for the self-indulgent trip down memory lane. Now was the time to make a move towards the other mothers not hang back lost in a reverie about being a new student 30-some years ago.  I warned myself not to do what I always do: make it all about me.

Ultimately, this new chapter in our family’s life is not about me; it’s about my kids. They are my sole purpose for being here. And, I want to be the mom they deserve– the one who can do uncomfortable things, like introduce herself to strangers or walk down the street without tripping in her impractical shoes.

I hesitated one more second. Then, I stepped to the nearest group of mothers and said, “Hi, I’m Christie and my daughter will be starting school here in September.”

It wasn’t quite a battle cry, but it was the closest I had come in a long time.

So, all of you experienced parents who have already done this– do you have tips for the nerves that come with joining a new school? Your nerves, not your kid’s, that is.  I am sure you are better adjusted than I am and never went through this, but maybe you heard about someone who did.  Please share.


22 thoughts on “Being New

  1. Christie–Just be yourself! They’ll love you.

    Also, it helps if you volunteer for stuff so the other parents can slack off and take you for granted–or maybe that’s just me?

  2. Sounds like me when I publish a new post! Just remember that you are all in the same boat — all of you are there to support your kids.

    Of course if I sound idealistic it’s because I haven’t had our school’s orientation yet! I shake just thinking about it.

  3. As you know, I’m as clueless as you are (but not nearly as stylish! Ava and I love those shoes!), so I asked Ava & Rhys for their suggestions: Ava said to “be yourself” and say, “Hi, I’m Sadie’s mom.” Exactly what you did – so far so good! Rhys suggested Sadie wear summer dresses with no coat throughout the winter – Rhys’ favorite style. That’s all I know.

  4. it’s hard to manage these situations without also managing our own ghosts. almost impossible, I’d say. Good shoes help. As does a pedicure, if you’re that sort of person. It’s a total cliche but yes, get involved. Be room mom or assistant room mom or vice-helper-chair-pusher-in-lady, whatever. Find out if the teacher wants parents to come in and read on a certain day, or do games, or that sort of thing. If your schedule allows, haunt the playground, ask questions about the neighborhood if it’s a new nabe…But the simple act of sticking your hand out and saying “hi” is a really good start. Why that’s so difficult to do is a question for the ages…

  5. I remember you beinthine of the new kids at SRS and you handled yourself very well considering most of us had been together since kindergarten. If you can successfully navigate Catholic school cliques, you will have absolutely zero problems at Sadie’s school. 🙂

    FWIW, sign up to help plan the school’s annual fundraising event. It was a lifesaver for me at both preschools we’ve been in…especially when we moved as I did not know a soul!

    • Funny! I didn’t think anyone else would remember when I was new at SRS! You guys were great to me and my whole family. And I just filled out an application to be a volunteer room parent so every volunteer opportunity is going to be a life saver as far as I am concerned. I just didn’t know it would be so hard!!!

      Hope you guys are well!!


  6. I feel this way all the time! But, like you, I push myself for my kids–it’s about them, not me. And I think your “battle cry” sounds awesome 🙂

    • Good, because after the battle cry and the meeting, I went home and cried because I wasn’t expecting all the “are we good enough?” stress. Luckily my husband just let me cry and get it out. Sometimes we need to do that!

  7. I have no advice but I know how you feel. I hate walking into new situations and fail miserably at chitchat. I ended up being a professor teaching classes as big as 200 with a wireless mic, power point, etc., and I was damn good (unlike me to say that but it’s nice to say). In highschool I never dreamed in a million years I would/could do that. The stress of the first day of classes was unbearable but it quickly subsided after a few words.

    I wonder how I’ll manage things now with my little one? I agree, be yourself and get involved somewhat. I’m a total hypocrite by the way….I can’t even sign up for a mommy and me class. Lol

    • I know! There are only ten students in my classes and it starts out so scary. All those eyes. I can’t imagine 200!!!

      And mommy and me classes can be scary.

  8. I feel your pain. I have been painfully shy most of my life and I hate not knowing anybody in a room because I am terrible at small talk. Complete introvert and was unprepared for how much small talk I would have to make at school events. Thankfully I have gotten better at it with time. What helped me funnily enough was repeating this is not about me. My kids will be fine in school regardless at how crappy I am at small talk and oddly enough that provides me comfort.

  9. Three levels of engagement:
    Polite smile with eye contact, and sit. They’ll be there next time, too, so small steps are okay.

    “Hi, I’m Christie.” Gives them the chance to ask who your child is, will all subsequent questions about newness, age, gender, etc. open for small talk.

    “Oh my, I’m so nervous you’d think it was my first day of school!” with warm smile. Betcha they’re either nervous or kind, and both types will engage with this opening.

    I probably would have tripped on purpose to get it out of the way and draw attenton to my awesome shoes. But that’s an advanced dork move for which I’ve prepared for my whole life…

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