Parenting: Will I Always Be One Beat Behind?

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It was like being in a cool band where she was the lead guitarist and I was the drummer; Freya brought the melody, excitement and showmanship but I provided the beat for her to follow.

I was looking forward to getting back to that over the Christmas holiday – the first proper break she’s had since starting school full time in September (we went away at half term) – but I think we had what can safely be described as some “creative differences”.

While I was playing pop music, Freya strayed into heavily metal. We tried to jam together but we sounded terrible – and like a lot of bands, felt like going our separate ways.

I’ve read so many Tweets and comments from parents saying how much they hated their children going back to school today. Before the holidays I thought I would be among them but, frankly, not only did I want her to go back to school, she couldn’t wait either.

And that makes me really, really sad.

Motherhood isn’t for everyone – and, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve questioned whether it should have been for me. Maybe those two loses before Freya were actually someone, somewhere, telling me I wasn’t cut out for it? I know that’s a silly thing to say but her first year was hard, hard work. We came out the other side stronger and even as I struggled I knew just how privileged I was to get this chance.  As she grew, our relationship did too. We had fun, we explored, learned together – even surviving the terrible twos relatively intact.

Then it was time for school – something that she was ready for, even if I wasn’t.

She has loved most of it and perhaps I was naive to think that we could just slot back into our old band when we’ve both being doing some solo stuff for a while now.

Over Christmas, we still went out and explored, splashed in muddy puddles, had playdates and enjoyed ourselves but when we were at home it seemed like she missed the schedule of school, of having a million things to do and right at her finger tips. We would paint and cook and craft and play and have iPad time and read but, whereas before that would be spread across the day (or more like different days), this time she was done in 15 minutes (from 5am).

I know that some of it was just the excitement of Christmas but there were several points where I just thought ‘I have no clue what to do now’ and because of that she went into meltdown. The last couple of weeks have not been my finest as a parent. After she had gone to bed, I would look at her, peacefully asleep ,and the guilt was almost overwhelming. It felt like that first year all over again.

Just when I thought I was getting the hang of it and keeping a steady rhythm, the song changes and I’m left a beat behind again.

The thing is, I want to be in our band but I’m not really a fan of heavy metal and it doesn’t seem like she enjoys pop anymore so I’m not sure where that leaves us? Maybe we need to explore some other genres.

Anyone know anything about jazz?

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28 thoughts on “Parenting: Will I Always Be One Beat Behind?

  1. One of the problems sometimes is that at school they are being stimulated all the time and this can be a challenge when they are out of school. If they don’t have an opportunity to be bored they won’t necessarily develop the ability to explore ideas independently

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  2. The expectations of holidays and long hours of being the only form of entertainment (and the only focus for frustration if you don’t provide exactly what’s wanted) are really hard. This may not work, but with Goldie I used to try and enter his world completely for a defined period of time – so for maybe an hour we would do exactly what he wanted even though that was likely to be something that made my soul shrivel. That intensity sometimes seemed to allow him to then entertain himself for a while. And being outside always helped but I know you’re good at that.
    But the more important message is, just remember being a good parent is about your commitment to her wellbeing. It’s not about you being a mind reader or a children’s entertainer. No harm will come to her as a result of this.

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    1. Caz! Happy New Year to you! I hope you’re all well? Thank you for your comment, you always make me feel better. I try and sit and play with her (I’m a big fan of Playmobil) but she gets cross because I don’t understand what she wants me to do. For example, we were playing with her hospital and suddenly all the doctors became ghosts. Maybe I should just try and go with it? See how I get on.

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      1. Oh God, I do remember that sort of thing. But you’re not a bad mum because you don’t see the doctor ghosts coming! We’re OK thank you. Happy new year to you too.

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  3. Please don’t be too hard on yourself, Tara. Childhood is full of phases and just as you settle into one, her preferences will change again!
    I’m sure that everything you are doing is helping Freya to grow and develop her skills, and a bit of independence will come as part of that. It’s a hard realisation that our job is to give them wings to fly.
    I wish I had had the time to play with mine as much as you clearly do, but having twin boys when my daughter was 2 sort of changed the dynamic! She will be just fine. Wishing you luck, Julie

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    1. Wow, Julie. Twins and a two-year-old? You’re my hero. I can’t even imagine what that was like. Thank you very much for your kind words, you have made me feel better.

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  4. Tara, what a beautifully honest post. Thank you. We all find motherhood hard and finding it so does not mean for a heartbeat that you are not cut out to be a mum. You sound like a wonderful one to me. And I’ve cheered on many occasions when my children went back to school after the holidays! xxx

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    1. Thank you so much, Kirsten. I think the added weight of losing the first two pregnancies does add some pressure, especially when things aren’t going well. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in being relieved at school starting again.

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  5. Free form jazz is wonderful, occasionally discordant but ultimately tuneful. You are a brilliant Mother, we all have moments of dispair but are not all so brave to admit to it. Can I play the tambourine in your backing band?

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  6. Just let the child be and don’t try so hard to be her friend, get on with your chores and let her find her own ways to amuse herself, give her space and let her grow, you don’t dig seeds up to see if they are growing….

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  7. I’m out the other side, so to speak, and now my own children are experiencing their children flying the nest in just this way (as am I, this time as grandparent).

    I did always feel sad as my chicks left, bit-by-bit: infants, juniors, secondary, leaving home/university, interspersed with partners, finally full-time relationships, now their own children. But looking back, although I’m sad at each partial loss from each such leaving, I’m also happy (not to say proud) at what replaces what’s lost.

    A hug from a grown-up child as we watch a tiny child/grandchild is worth a lot. Savour what you have at each stage … all the while seeing (and accepting) the necessity of such stages.

    Not all sadness is a bad thing. I’m sad now at my grandchildren’s growing and leaving (in the way you describe); that’s a good sadness because I’ve had such joy from the stage they’re just leaving … not to mention the remembered joy (mixed with sadness) from my own children’s (their parents’) leaving. Also, at this stage in my life, I’m consoled by what I know of joys to come as these small ones get bigger. I wish you equal joy!

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  8. Hi Tara, just think you are the one that has given her the confidence to be the happy, self-assured little person she is. There will be times when you come back together before distance sets in again, and it’s totally fine to say that you were looking forward to Freya going back to school. I used to love it too. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, just an honest one… I’m no expert on music, but maybe an eclectic jamming session maybe what you need?

    xx

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  9. What an honest post. Thank you for sharing. As an FS2 teacher and Mum, I experienced similar feelings and I was shocked because I thought I was prepared for the changes school would bring for my daughter. Suddenly it was “Miss Clark says this” and “Miss Clark wouldn’t do that,” and I was replaced from the top spot in my daughter’s life. Like your daughter, mine started to set the pace and direction too. It was hard and upsetting but I knew that I was no longer even a member of her “band.” But guess what? She is now 15 and I’ve been to nearly every show, cheered her on and caught her when she failed. I’m sure I wasn’t invited into every part of her life but she has shared some dramatic highs and lows with me. The aim is for your daughter to become independent, emotionally intelligent and a capable, socially conscious young lady, things that are not on the national curriculum. (some GCSE’s would be an added bonus!) Only you can mould your daughter’s character and you can do this by just being there and gaining her trust to confide in you. when she is faced with challenges. Discuss things you see together and casually raise topics to encourage discussion on topics that don’t appear on the curriculum. Its so hard to raise good children today because they are surrounded by images and peers who contradict your standards but in time, your daughter will see others make mistakes and will learn from them. I’ve never been a fan of homework in KS1 and feel that as little as possible should be given in KS2 too. A lot of the homework set these days are “projects,” encouraging parents and children to work on a task together. I have mixed opinions on these but I feel very strongly that the greatest gift you can give to your daughter is a love for books and the ability to read. You have an advantage that the teacher doesn’t – time to spend 1-2-1 with your daughter. You will need to read with her every day, learn key sight vocabulary and progress to spelling later. Keep the reading sessions short and rewarding – we always sat down at the kitchen table with a yummy snack straight after school for 10 to 15 mins. I have seen so many bright children struggle to read fluently because they don’t read at home. As a teacher I can’t give 30 children 10 minutes of quiet focussed reading time each day. I can teach them to read in small groups “guided reading,” or by reading large texts in unison as a whole class but the parent holds the trump card in this game. Time. As a mum and daughter, we have even pulled the reading books out in the supermarket car park before now. It doesn’t have to be perfect but doing something is better than nothing. If your daughter struggles to read with enjoyment by the age of 6 or 7 she will already start falling behind so that first year at school is vital. Forget tutoring and Kumon, you’ve got this, this is your new part in her band. Read with her, read to her, at home, on a picnic, read the signs when you’re shopping, go to the library, let her see you reading, books, newspapers, recipes, let her see you laugh and giggle when you’re reading. As a reward, let her choose a brand new book from a fabulous book store and make it a girlie trip out. Make books amazing! These are things the teacher can’t do anywhere near as well as you can. Don’t be disheartened that your daughter is setting a new pace and direction, learn to be interested in her choices and gently guide her to the activities and topics of discussion you know you need to add to the school curriculum to enable her to grow up to be a confident young lady.

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    1. So sorry for the delay in responding to your comment, it got stuck in the spam filter. We’ve read to her every night since she was a baby and now she reads to us too. I’ve been amazed by how much she has learnt since starting school.

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  10. I struggled the first year. hell I’m still struggling. I find my daughter and I go through periods of being in sync and others where we’re just totally not on the same wavelength. Maybe it was just an off patch… you’ll find your mojo again I’m sure. The fact that you’ve noticed and cared is a sure sign of a great mum ❤

    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #BlogCrush linky! Feel free to collect your "I've been featured" blog badge

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