The New ‘Awkward Phase’
I have decided that the current generation has found a way to skip over the ‘Awkward Phase’. You know the period I’m talking about: braces correcting jacked up teeth, crazy hair (why did I want a perm again?), unreasonably loud and ill-fitting clothes, and this all converging at the age when you shoot up 6 inches and have all the grace of a newborn deer. Sound familiar? Well, Gen Z skipped that memo. Yeah, I know, totally unfair! My son is only five; however, my friends’ children who should be in that phase have inexplicably cut the line to ‘Effortlessly Cool’. But the joke is on them…I have recently discovered the newest awkward phase and it is Kindergarten Mom. Oh yeah. Awkwardness didn’t disappear, it just relocated further down your life path.
This past week we had “Kindergarten Orientation” as well as “Meet the Teacher” prior to our son beginning school. Everyone was really kind, friendly, willing to answer questions, and open to meeting new people. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I was somehow a step behind. You see, I am almost 40 (more on that later) and while it is not unusual to have a 40 year old woman with a Kindergartener, I am feeling particularly vulnerable that this is my FIRST child entering Kindergarten. Most moms my age have one or more kids a couple years ahead in school, so all the “first time stuff” that I feel awkward (read: dumb) asking, is old hat to them. The fact that we moved to our house less than a year ago doesn’t help, especially because we moved during a pandemic, when you can’t get out as much and make new connections. All of this makes for an awkward dynamic, at least in my brain.
Asking questions isn’t the issue and I have by NO means experienced any “mean girls”. On the contrary, everyone seems super nice. It’s just a truly awkward feeling: thrusting oneself into a conversation with a group of women who clearly already know each other and have kids who know each other, have lived in the same neighborhood and played together for the last 4 years. The thought of it knots my stomach and brings back a flood of middle school flashbacks. All the while, my newly-five year old is looking at me for guidance on what to do next. I have to lead by example, swallow those fears, march up, and say “hello” just as I am telling him to do.
I am not sure why this has affected me so. In a work environment I am fearless: networking, planning events, running trade show booths, closing contracts, you get the idea. Yet, there is something about being in an unfamiliar school setting, around unfamiliar people, that brings back my ‘Ghosts of Weirdness Past’. I even mentioned to my husband that the library had a familiar smell to it. Perhaps though, NOT having an awkward phase will benefit generations behind us – if you’ve never felt awkward before, maybe you just…won’t. But if you do, come find me. I’ll be the one in the corner of the gym with a sign up sheet for the “First Time Kindergarten Moms Support Group: Awkwardness Welcomed.”