Open House: Another Personal Hell

Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

My children started the new school year today. Yesterday I took the day off from work to stay home with them, not only to save on insane childcare costs, but also to have one last day of fun with them before they go back to school.

We had a great day. We went swimming and had a great time. Then in the evening, we went to the open house at their school so they could meet their teachers.

The kids’ father pointed out that he doesn’t know why I put myself through these things. He doesn’t think it’s necessary to go to the open house. They’ll find out who their teachers are on their first day, it’s a waste of time and energy.

Part of my anxiety is over-preparing for EVERYTHING. I’m that person who obsessively researches every single aspect when buying a new car; who makes lists and starts preparing months in advance when planning a vacation.

So when it comes time for the kids to start school each year, I buy all the school supplies, I sort it out into items that go into each of their backpacks and then items that we’ll take to the open house beforehand. I make sure we know who their teachers are and what their room numbers are. I take them to meet the teachers and explain the kids’ various difficulties to them so they know what to look out for and how to handle them in various situations.

I make sure my son’s teachers know that he’s very sensitive and shuts down when he doesn’t understand or gets embarrassed. I make sure my daughter’s teachers know how incredibly smart she is, but how she has a hard time paying attention, and gets discouraged easily.

I fill out all the paperwork and make sure everything is in order. And yet, when I approached the school yesterday evening and saw that the parking lot was completely full all the way around the building and cars were parking in the grass and on the side of the street, I immediately started panicking. I realized I’d forgotten to take my anxiety meds and didn’t have them with me. I started imagining every possible scenario that could go wrong.

What if I couldn’t find a place to park and had to park in the grass, and then I got stuck? What if there are so many people in the way that we don’t even make our way to their classrooms in time? What if I lose the kids in the crowd and then Logan can’t find me and starts panicking? What if I have a panic attack because of all the people and start hyperventilating in front of the kids’ friends, embarrassing them? What if all of these thousands of people realize I’m a crappy mother because I can’t hold myself together for something as simple as an open house at an elementary school?

In the end, it was fine. Of course.

There were a few hiccups. Because there were so many other people looking at the teacher assignments list, it took a while to find my kids’ names. There were a lot of people bumping into us in the hallways, which always makes me anxious. The kids’ classrooms were full of other children and parents meeting the teachers, so it was really difficult to get up the courage to actually talk to the teachers. We actually gave up on actually speaking to my daughter’s teacher because the line to meet her was out the door. When I spoke to my son’s teacher, I got a bit emotional while describing his difficulties. I didn’t cry (by some miracle) but I’m sure she could see it in my face.

We left and I breathed a sigh of relief. I survived. Nothing went horribly wrong. The kids got to see quite a few of their friends, so they were happy. As usual, I panicked for nothing.


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