Whole Parenting Family

thoughts on becoming a drop-off mom

whole parenting family

About a month back or so, when the time came to send our four and a half year old to the music preschool, one day a week, one hour and a half–(4.5 year old to 1 day a week, 1.5 hours)–I panicked. I posted on a fb group I’m freaking out about dropping off my son at music class!!!

Backing up. This teacher, and this school, are phenomenal. We took a year long class together with the teacher. If anyone tells you pre-k music is just a time-filler, they haven’t had the experience I have. Wow. Not only is the curriculum geared toward building their little minds and skill sets, it’s artfully woven into a fun time and a silly time and a playing music time. And most especially, a time for exposure to instruments and musical ideas I simply cannot provide.

BUT we’ve never dropped our kids anywhere. Only a few friends have babysat, otherwise always family. We’ve never left that at a gym play area, a church play area, a crafts play area, a daycare, a school, nothing.

Returning to my panic. I called my sisters, my friends, my husband at work, and my mom, is he ready? what if there are peanuts? what if he poops and doesn’t wipe all the way? what if he’s mean to another kid? what if he’s the sassy boy in class? I texted my bloggy mommy friends. I freaked out.

My fb group was soothing, for the most part. The moms reminded me that he is a sweet boy, one who is adventuresome but cautious. A boy who isn’t going to be nasty, and if he is, it’ll be a learning experience for him. And that this little letting go is a step for him toward other letting go’s. They were encouraging of our decision that he was ready, and supported me through my panic attack.

One friend’s comment stuck in my throat, though.

“I’m not a drop-off mom.”

or something to that effect. Although she was reassuring me in my decision he was ready for this time away from me with strangers {teacher aside}, if I thought he was, she wouldn’t have done that with her kids at that age, and didn’t.

Cue the strobe light panic button.

Running through my head: I’m a drop-off mom. I’m a mom abandoning her child. He could be hurt, scarred, injured, and I wouldn’t even know it. He could face irreparable damage. He could die of an allergic reaction. He could be exposed to awful things. He could feel deeply abandoned and frightened. And I wouldn’t even know.

Because I am a drop-off mom.

What I couldn’t shake from her comment was this sense of forced-guilt. I’m selfish. I’m dumping my kid so I can do something I want. I’m not taking care of my own child. I should be teaching him music. I should be protecting him from anything that could possibly happen to him. I’m insufficient as a mom. I shouldn’t have three kids if I don’t watch them all. All the time.

None of these thoughts are factually accurate. The measly hour and a half? I sometimes take the other two to the coffee shop down the street and try to keep them quiet enough for the adult patrons to keep their glares at a minimum (and use their bathroom for unsuccessful potty tries). Sometimes I drive around in the car so the baby can sleep and the tot can look for other red cars out the window. Sometimes I dash to run an errand, only to have two melting down children, and then get back in the car and go back to the music school to hang in their sunlight area for families.

And I can’t take care of every need of my child. I’m not a specialist in music development for early childhood. I can afford to give him this, so why hold back on some weird principle of being the Alpha & Omega? And if something bad happens (unlikely with two teachers, ten kids, one room with the door closed), we’ll deal with it. Three kids or one kid, I’d still want him to take a music class.

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking what the hell is her problem? I’ve safely and satisfactorily dropped my child off for school, daycare, music, dance, art, babysitting? Maybe you remember when your firstborn did something no one else had done before in your heart: taken a big leap away from you, your care, your eyes, your hands. And you remember how it was scary but beautiful, all at once. And you remember that with that first letting go, came the confidence to let him do other things.

So I’m a drop-off mom, now. And I’m okay with it.



  1. Laura on November 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I was raised by a mostly not-drop-off-mom, and I do not recommend that approach. To be fair, my parents were not extreme (I actually went to preschool for a short time). But it’s really _not_ ideal to be the Alpha and Omega for your child. It’s not just some sort of concession of your own weakness. It’s truly not best for the child.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Exactly. I cannot be and shouldn’t try to be everything. It’s not healthy or normal. Props, lady!! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Lauren on November 11, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Ohhhh I get it. We recently moved to WA from SC (where my family/friends are) for the military. We know only a few people at our new church- but no one is super close yet. I have a standing weekly appointment and it’s getting a little hard to wrangle a 14 month old. So I’ve signed her up for occasional/hourly care at the daycare on base. And I’m dying a little bit in anticipation of her first day this week. Thing is, she’s an only child right now and I know she loves being around other kids, so I’m praying this ends up being a good thing for her, just as music is good for your son. And a little independence never hurt anyone either, right? Drop-off moms unite! Whether 1.5 hours a week or 40. We do what we gotta do.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm

      You are going to be great. And she is going to be great. I PROMISE because I’m a surviver-drop-off-mom 🙂 XO What a tough move & transition for you guys!!

  3. Rachel @ efficientmomma on November 11, 2014 at 7:48 am

    Hah I’m so glad I’m not the only one who freaks out about this stuff. I didn’t leave Noah with anyone other than my husband till he was over a year. And just recently with a friend. So I totally get it 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      🙂 I’m a freak-out mom. HAHAHA

  4. Katarina on November 11, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Having an unemployed husbaned and being unemployed myself, I was offered a fantastic job when my baby was 15 mo. It broke my heart accepting it. It still breaks my hear when he kisses my goodbye in the morning. However, I honestly believe that it is the problem od modern time motherhood to be overprotective over our children. Having lost God out of our sight, some of us have made God out of our children. Our connection with our children should be broken because it was the intention of God: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple”. This has encouraged me to indeed put God in first place in my life. It has really helped me to start praying to God give to my son whatever I can not. After all, if I can give my child everything he needs, does he need God? How will he meet God? All of these thoughts have reassured me that I was a good mother and hopefully it could help you as well. I really feel blessed being Catholic because I see how it hellps me bulid whole and healty family bonds.

  5. Melissa on November 11, 2014 at 8:18 am

    My oldest started preschool in August. I agonized over her first day being dropped off anywhere. It was so scary for me. She did awesome. She gave me a big kiss and a tight hug and then was off to play. She did that for the first couple of weeks, but now gets tears in her eyes every time I drop her off. It breaks my heart every time. Fortunately she goes two days a week, so I only have to deal with it twice a week. Her teacher says she has a great time and pulls it together once I am gone.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      They must go through cycles. So far he literally doesn’t notice when I leave the room. And when I show up, he barely notices either!!! I always thought when moms talked about it being scary they were just dramatic. Oh, no, that was me!!!

  6. Kim on November 11, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I went this same thing when I put my twin girls in preschool 2days a week. I am the primary educator, shouldn’t I be assuming the responsibility to teach them preschool skills? Aren’t I selfish for handing them over to someone else? It didn’t help that when I picked them up, one of them started wailing that she wanted to stay (she now greets me with a huge smile and hug). But the reality is, the girls LOVE their school, and what they are learning only complements what we do at home. And it also gives my two younger ones a little more attention with mom. I think it’s important my kids hear the lessons I’ve taught them from another authority, even if it’s only twice a week. I’m a drop-off mom too, and I am fine with it.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      THANK YOU KIM! So so so so great to hear. And so much the truth.

  7. Tasslyn Magnusson on November 11, 2014 at 10:42 am

    I totally understand. Completely. When I worked at the school where my kids attended, I thought, great – I’m here. I’ll be here for whatever happens. No problem. I’m working and being present in my kids lives. Well, the two major like call an ambulance events of my son’s life happened when I was off campus. And my co-worker called me – “hey, they are paging you, Perrin’s in the nurses and they need you stat.” So, for those two moments, it wasn’t me holding my son’s hand in the immediate aftermath – it was my incredibly beloved co-worker. Who stood in bravely, supporting our son and taking panic calls from me as I zoomed back…

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      And how awesome that you had them in an incredible environment!!! HOW SCARY and how much you really really loved your co-worker right then, especially.

  8. Kathleen on November 11, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I’m a working mom out of necessity and yes it was very hard to drop off both my babies when they were only two months old (although it WAS easier the second time around) but I just don’t think “drop-off mom” should even be a term because it just sounds guilt-inducing and like it’s just ASKING for the mommy wars to begin. That’s what upsets me about the FB commenter’s statement; it just sounds so judgy.

    • Bonnie on November 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      Yeah, wow, I agree with Kathleen. “Drop off mom” is a horrible term. That may be one of the worst I’ve ever heard in the whole of all the Mommy War battles.

      • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        I am sure it was unintentional but it had me weeping and calling everyone. And texting everyone. And then bothering AA at work about 4 times in an hour period.

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      I KNOW!!!!!!!! So many of my friends work and their “dropping off” is called having their child cared for while they do what they need to do. I’m sure she didn’t mean it to sound like this, but it made me feel like anyone who leaves their child with others who are caring for them is a bad parent. I really hope this isn’t an actual term. Thank you so much for your take!

  9. Alice on November 11, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I feel you so much on this one! Only, for me, it’s because my parents were not drop-off parents. My husband, on the other hand, not only *was* dropped off, he feels like it is a good thing for the child, at some point, to be able to listen to another adult, get help, learn different things/ways than mom or dad might teach. And … I begrudgingly get it. Not at this point (ours are both under 3); but at some point. I still plan on homeschooling, I’m still very wary of babysitters (only my most trusted friends have watched them up to this point); but someday, I can see a value in it. I have known children who were very emphatic that *only mommy* could tie their shoes or *only daddy* can tell them to stop doing something, and it’s not something I’d want to foster in my own (obviously, there are boundaries, and at a young age, that’s one thing; but there is a point where it’s healthy for a child to allow a known, trusted adult to get a toy down off a shelf or tell them to take their feet off the couch). Everyone’s situation is so different, too. I would have felt very wounded by that comment because saying “drop off mom” seems to imply that someone looks for every opportunity to abandon their kids (which some parents do). But allowing an almost-kindergartner to take an enrichment class on his own? That’s hardly evading your parently duties!

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Oh, Alice. THANK YOU! We also only have family//super close friends babysit and my oldest is 4.5! It really helps to hear your perspective, and your husband’s. Thank you so much!

  10. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama on November 11, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    My oldest is now 12, but I distinctly remember the first tme I dropped her off. She was 4 and it was for speech therapy at the local school. It was really weird being without her and her having a part of the day (even if just 1 hour) I wasn’t around her. But honestly the hardest thing for me, was being on the schedule and being paranoid about getting back to the school to pick her up on time. I used to go grocery shopping during that hour, but it was nerve-wracking at first because I was so worried about being on time to pick her up (as punctuality is NOT one of my strong points).

    I also find the “not a drop-off mom” comment to be really odd. And I can’t really imagine NEVER dropping kids off anywhere. At some point every mom drops their kids off . We homeschool, so my kids don’t go to school, but they definitely get dropped off for other things (and truth be told, I’ve come to LOVE that time).

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      I know. The paranoia of him standing there, alone, kills me. Really. It really helps to hear this from you! We are homeschooling (if that’s what you can call reading & playing with a 4 year old) and so this really sliced me up to hear it–even though I’m sure that was not her intention at all.

  11. Kim on November 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    I’m in the FB group you referred to and I remember seeing your comment and cringing when I read some of the responses. You are obviously bringing your son to music class because you feel that it is in his best interest and you should not be made to feel guilty about that. I’m sure your son is learning so much and gaining confidence in his 1.5 hours of independence each week. Ultimately, we are raising these tiny people to become independent and go out into the world…this is just the first step for your son and that is a wonderful thing 🙂

    • Natural Mama Nell on November 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks, Kim! I truly believe everyone was trying to be helpful–I was simply having my own reaction amplified by my own fears already! And your insights here & support is so so so wonderful. XO

  12. Susanna on November 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm

    Because I am really bad about signing up for activities outside the house, the only non-friend place we have only dropped G (at age 4) off at VBS, but I tell you it freaked me out the first day, even though it was at church. Also, the first day she comes home and annouces that the snack was bananas (allergy–so far just vomitting), which she told them she was allergic and it was cool. The next day the snack was watermelon (another allergy–reaction is hives), anyway they believed her that day as well. So, ultimately I failed to notify them of allergies… whoops. At least we have mild allergies here. I will have to ask you about that music class though. It would be nice to have more variety in home school.

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