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12 new strains of mammy guilt I've faced since my son started preschool

It’s been three months, and I’m still hazy on what ‘Montessori’ even means, writes Chrissie Russell.

Image: Shutterstock/Katerina Morozova

AS A PARENT, I worry about plenty of legitimate things, from my son’s sleeping habits to his eating habits to his general health.

However I also harbour a host of utterly neurotic, highly illogical worries as well, and the list has only gotten longer since Tom started at Montessori three months ago.

When it comes to first day fears and adjustment periods, it’s not our little ones we should be worrying about but ourselves. I’ll admit I was unprepared for the sheer volume of things there is to panic about.

Here are just a few…

1. What if I haven’t toilet trained him well enough?
I blindly panic that Tom’s going to need the loo during class and come back with his trousers around his ankles because he’s still so used to me helping him pull them up.

That said, I have seen other parents covertly shooing their children into the loo before they leave the classroom each morning, so I suspect I’m not the only one who might have elaborated their tot’s ‘independent’ toilet skills.

2. Will everyone laugh at his boring lunch?
Thanks to Instagram, I’m now paranoid that Tom’s the only Montessori child without faux-sushi and home-baked mini muffins in his lunchbox. Will everyone stare at his cheese sandwich and raisins?

shutterstock_471889223 Honestly, who has the time? Source: Shutterstock/SewCream

3. What do they even do there all day?
On every drive home I ask the same question. ‘What did you do in Montessori today?’ I try prompts, too. ‘Did you colour anything in? Did you play outside? Did you read a story? Who did you sit beside?’ I’m lucky if I get enough intel to cover ten minutes of his day, let alone three hours.

4. Will the teachers think I’m a helicopter parent?
Based on the bewildering lack of information gleaned from my child on his daily activities, I long to ask the teacher what’s going on in there. But I don’t want to look super-keen… especially since no-one else seems to be asking.

5. What does ‘Montessori’ even mean?
Yes, my son fails to articulate the ins and outs of daily life at Montessori, but if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sure myself what he’s supposed to be doing in there. Something about ‘learning through play’?

shutterstock_1029059434 Look at them there, learning through play. Source: Shutterstock/NadyaEugene

6. Why all the honest feedback?
Until Montessori, the only thing I was used to hearing about my adorable son was, well… how adorable he was.

Now all of a sudden there’s feedback about him needing to improve his listening skills, talking when he needs to be quiet, running indoors. I’m part mortified, and part annoyed that the teachers haven’t yet mentioned his adorable-ness.

7. He’ll never know freedom again, will he?
Until entering the Montessori classroom, my son had no real concept of being part of a group or answering to a leader. At home, to be honest, it wasn’t always clear who was in charge, him or me. Now he’s in the matrix until he hits retirement age.

8. What if someone (anyone!) is mean to him?
I once overheard kids in the park once tell my son he couldn’t play with them and it was only common-decency (and the fact that they were five-year-olds) preventing me from going full-on Hulk on them. I don’t know what I’d do if I knew something similar was going on at Montessori.

9. Has everyone else noticed I put him in the same trousers two days in a row?
Logic tells me that the staff are too busy to be concerned with such trivial matters.
Crazy Mammy Guilt, however, tells me they’ll think I’m a bad mum, that I’m not on top of the washing, that those trousers are actually an inch too short, that he needs new ones… and that his hair could probably do with a cut.

shutterstock_419662006 Please don't notice the mud stain on the knee... Source: Shutterstock/Martin Prague

10. What if he says something rude?
By and large our house is one of ‘fiddlesticks’ and ‘shoot’, but you just never know what your child might come out with. My brother once called me a ‘p*** artist’ while visiting one of my mother’s fancy friends. That was more than 30 years ago and Mum still hasn’t recovered.

10. Am I doing birthday parties wrong?
Until now, parties were family focused with numbers unlikely to move beyond single figures. Now there’s a party every month.

What do I spend on a gift? Who is this child and why can’t I remember his parents names? Do I need to invite everyone to Tom’s birthday even though my living room is the size of a postage stamp?

11. What if he thinks his teacher is cooler than me?
I don’t think I have to fear for him calling anyone else ‘mummy’ but every so often he’ll deliver a bit of wisdom that makes me worry he thinks his teacher is cooler than I am. And worse, that he’s correct.

I’m not ready to relinquish my crown as The Font Of All Knowledge yet, thank you very much.

More: It’s my son’s third birthday – here’s why I’m refusing to give into ‘party pressure’

More: 8 irrational thoughts every parent has when the kids are sick

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