I longed for this day.
During that first year when, on top of the huge changes that motherhood brings, the reflux, intolerances and sheer exhaustion of never sleeping in more than 10 minute snatches brought me to my knees, I thought ‘One day I will get me back, when she goes to school.’
What I didn’t realise, what I couldn’t realise back then, was that when that time eventually came, I wouldn’t want to let her go.
People told me ‘it won’t always be like this’ and, a personal favourite, ‘you need to make the most of it’. That’s easier said than done when my baby was crying in pain 80% of the day and night, refusing to feed, losing weight, not wanting my comfort but refusing to be put down – and no one was either willing or able to help. The only thing I could do was hold on and wait for it to be over.
I know it could have been far worse but it was still hard. I’m not going to pretend otherwise, even though I feel guilty about it.
They were right about one thing though, it did get easier. At nine months the reflux settled down, at a year I saw glimpses of what was to come. The fun, the laughter. Yes, there were also tears and tantrums – and a continuing lack of sleep – but by then we were bonded. She was my sidekick, my little shadow or, as our postman described her the other day, my co-pilot.
He was used to bumping into us, off on some sort of mini-adventure.
“Where’s your co-pilot today?” He asked, not realising she was now at school full time.
The truth is, for the last couple of years she’s been much more than co-pilot – quite often she picked the route, made the announcements and was flying the plane. Our days together, when I wasn’t working, were dictated by the journeys she wanted to take. Now she’s handed back the controls but after an initial rush of euphoria where I got a hot chocolate (and sat and drank it in the shop without having to colour anything in or make conversation about My Little Pony), had a henna tattoo and got my hair cut, I’m…directionless.
I miss our outdoor adventures, exploring new places, visiting somewhere on a whim – even going to the local playground.
I. Miss. Her.
While I don’t miss endless hours of playing games that make no sense, the four-year-old rage or the constant commentary on anything and everything, I do find myself counting down to 3.30pm.
I realised on her first day that my fears about her starting school had nothing to do with her – she loves it, can’t wait to get in each day – and everything to do with me. My role as a mother to a baby, a toddler, a small child is over. There are no more babies for me and Freya will spend the majority of her time with other people now.
Early motherhood is… done.
And, as bad as of some of it was, I’m not quite ready for it to be over. I’m not quite ready to be flying solo again.
It’s going to take some getting used to, just as motherhood did – although hopefully with more sleep this time.
19 thoughts on “What I realised about Freya starting school (it’s not you, it’s me).”
Things will emerge to fill the void. I still look forward to school holidays and 3.30. Big hugs xx
Thank you 🙂 It’s a very strange feeling, isn’t it?
This is such a beautiful post and I can totally understand how you are feeling. Of course you know you will get used to it in time and find other things to do, but it’s never quite the same. My daughter has just started secondary school and I’m struggling with her being out for a much longer time and not needing to walk her to school.
Thank you, Sarah. I’m so pleased I’m not alone. They just seem to grow up too fast (which is something I never thought I would say when she was a baby) 🙂
Transitions are always hard. I hope this one goes smoothly and that the grief that comes with an ending is lessened by the new beginnings in her life that will amaze and make you proud.
Thanks, Tara. I used to be quite good with change but I’ve taken this one hard. It certainly helps that she loves school and can’t wait to go in.
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Hi Tara, as one chapter in parenting opens another one is closed and I think it’s totally natural to feel like you do. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, as you said it is nice not to have to engage in things we really would rather not, but when we’ve spent so much time having them as co-pilots it is hard to adjust. I remember feeling like that after my very last breastfeed and also when my youngest started school. Next year my youngest finishes school and hopes to go off into the big wide world to further her studies. I have no doubt I’ll be a mixed bag of emotions then too.
I love the tattoo! And thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.
Thanks so much, Debbie. Can’t believe your youngest finishing school next year. Where does the time go?
I never really felt this because N has been in pretty much full time childcare since a year old. But many people do. It’ definitely hard when people don’t have anything to fill that gap or can’t get into what they do have. Hopefully you’ll be able to relax into her being away soon.
Thanks for linking up to #schooldays
Thank you. I know I’m lucky to have had her to myself for so long.
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Nothing to say, only hugs to give. x
All hugs gratefully received. Thank you 🙂
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Every stage of life has its period of adjustment. Primary school, high school, getting their own car and license, own job, leaving home. It takes a while for us to find our new rhythm. Give yourself time to adjust and make a plan to keep yourself occupied. Is there another Mum in the school group like you? Perhaps you could compare notes over coffee?
I totally understand your feelings and emotions. We invest so much time and energy in the early years and before you know it they’re gone! I look forward to the end of the school day too but sometimes it’s hard to let go and help them become more independent!
Thank you, Catherine.
Sending hugs 🤗
I love the way you describe your little side-kick. 3:30 will come every day. Your honesty is refreshing and the way your love shines through is beautiful. Good luck to you during this transition. You were able to transition into motherhood. This is another transition into mothering a school-aged child. Hugs!