“What did you do for Pre-K?” asked the parent I was chatting with in line at the school pickup. “We didn’t,” I replied. My son started Kindergarten last week, which was a significant change for us. I joked with my friends that he was practically feral, but deep down, it didn’t feel very far from the truth. The only type of school or organized environment Hank had ever been in was the Montesorri school he was in part-time after he just turned one. I’d take him out barely a year later so we could live in our Airstream and travel, and well…the rest is history. He’s seen most of the United States. He could camp primitively, very primitively. I’m talking no tent necessary by the age of 4. Safely use a pocket knife. Could he spell his name? Well, crap…I wasn’t even sure!
I looked into some private Pre-K’s, but when the pandemic shut down the entire world, including our schools, I opted against it. It didn’t feel right, and I wasn’t going to force it. I continued to work from home with a small child. When things were easy, we went on all kinds of adventures. When things got tough, I would just tell myself, “one more year.” Last week, that year was up. My “feral” child walked right into school, no tears, so brave, all on his own, and we started a brand new chapter.
We had no structure. We went with the flow, and now we have early bedtimes, wake-ups, rules, routine, homework, all of it. Hank’s exhausted. I’m exhausted, but the structure feels good after a year that ripped the rug out from under all of us.
I started training for the 2022 Houston Marathon on the same day Hank began Kindergarten. I now have the perfect window to run between school drop-off and work, and this small opportunity, this slight adjustment in my schedule, has shifted my focus towards the type of discipline and commitment I want to bring into 2022. Last year, I completed two half marathons and the Texas Distance Challenge, but I kept cycling through periods of accomplishment, which inevitably led to periods of complete burnout and depletion. My life, from parenting to work to training, was all over the place.
But you know what? I was doing the best I could in an absolutely crazy year. All of us were but with the ushering in of the start of a new school year and training for another marathon, I find that no matter how tired I am right now, I welcome that consistent 5 am wake-up, the walk to school, my morning run, a quiet house to work in, laying out Hank’s clothes next to his backpack, his early bedtime, and mine too. I thought this new structure would be a shock to our systems, but it’s not. We are taking it one step at a time and welcoming what it brings into our life.
Hank is thriving in school, and with his independence, I am carrying a little less extra weight this season. I was afraid all this structure might weigh us down when in fact, it might be doing the opposite. It requires that little bit of extra discipline, that push to committing to a healthy routine, that fuels accomplishment without exchanging it for burnout. I finally feel like I have some balance, control and can finally move out of survival mode towards a more results-oriented mindset looking towards the 2022 Chevron Houston Marathon and beyond.