The Winds of Change

imageBack to school is over. We are well into our first half term now. I’ve watched all the little Reception kids starting school over the last couple of weeks and I’ve felt a weird mixture of emotions.

Partly, I feel somewhat abandoned and a bit jealous as I’ve watched friends wave their last babies off and begin a life of relative freedom. I’ve also felt great anticipation. We’re next. So begins my final year with a pre-schooler at home. Before long we’ll receive our letter about application to school for our little Baby T. I’m yet to decide whether I feel jubilant and free at the light at the end of the tunnel or scared and nervous about the end of an era.

By the time T starts school – as the baby of the pack at the tender age of just four and one month – I will have had at least one small person at home with me for nine and a half years. In that time, my life has changed beyond measure. I’m not sure who that young, carefree person was. It can’t have been me, can it? Beyond a vague physical similarity (getting more vague by the day), I can find little to connect us. How did she fill her time? Where was her career heading? What were her goals and ambitions? All of that is long since buried under piles of kids.

OK, so I know the kids all being at school isn’t going to propel me back to those days of childless liberty. I’ll be tied to the school run, same as I am now. But something fundamental is changing and I can hear a strangely familiar but long forgotten voice calling me. It isn’t freedom exactly. It is a memory of life beyond small people.

So, this time next year, I’ll have all three at school. That sounds pretty exciting, right? I will have more time, more freedom to do something more productive with my life beyond childcare, perhaps revisit that dusty old career, which has been floating along quietly in second gear for years.

Exciting, perhaps, but also faintly terrifying. Kids may be a hinderance to achievement but they are also a convenient excuse for failing to reach your ambitions. That can be handy to hide behind when you feel entirely out of the loop with the world outside your own little bubble. When the kids have released you to a certain extent – for six hours a day at least – it is only your own apathy stopping you from doing all those things you always said you’d do if you didn’t have kids tying you down, right? The pressure to fulfil on those airy promises to yourself suddenly comes into play.

imagePlus, I’m turning forty next year, which doesn’t help with all this soul searching crap. I’m not particularly fussed about it, to be honest. It is only a number and a good excuse for a party but, it is also a time to reflect, whether you like it or not. This landmark coming along at the same time as my baby heads off to school feels like a bit of a double whammy for messing with my head.

I’m getting way ahead of myself, I do know that. I’ve still got a whole year at home with the Terrible T-Monster. Some days that feels like it is going to be a lifetime. Others, I can’t bear to imagine the end.

I spoke to a friend today whose little one started school this month and she said how lonely she feels home alone without him. After three kids and over nine years, I don’t think I will feel that way, but I’m really not certain. And I feel the need to insure against it by lining up busy things to fill the void. I have become a mayhem addict. I thrive on it. I fill every gap. What happens when those gaps get too big to fill?

You see, much as I moan about them and much as they drive me insane, I have loved the hectic nature of life with pre-schoolers. And I know I will miss it. I will also rejoice that it has ended. It will be a painful, delightful, terrible and wonderful time. I will embrace it with open arms and I will cry buckets. I already want to cry at the thought of it, even as I wish it away.

We’re still potty training here (yes, still) and as I dealt with another pair of shit-filled pants in the park today, September 2017 couldn’t come soon enough. Even when each day feels like a lifetime, I know I will look back this time next year and wonder where the time went. It is a slippery little sucker, that Time.

imageBut enough of this navel gazing nonsense. Back to the reality of life. My eldest has taken to chewing his school shirts and has destroyed two in the three weeks since school started. M has turned into a screaming banshee as she adapts to the big step up from Reception to Year 1 and is utterly exhausted. And T? Well, T shits himself daily. So, there is plenty of reality to keep me busy and away from too much reflection about my final year with a pre-schooler.

So, as this era slowly draws to a close, I guess I should try to ‘enjoy every moment’ as people tend to say to Mum’s of young kids – generally people who have either never had their own kids or have conveniently forgotten how shit so much of parenting can be. All I can promise to do is enjoy as much as I can, do my best not to wish it away and then try not regret it passing when it has gone.

And to try to promise not to pressure myself with my own expectations. Maybe it will be time for a change soon, when the era finally does end and change blows in. But maybe that change should just be watching daytime TV and drinking tea in peace – at least in the short term.

Yep, the winds of change are beginning to blow but only as a whisper for now. Plenty of time to see which way they are blowing. Only Time, that slippery old bastard, will tell.

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Grumpy Mummy

imageAfter a great summer of late starts, time off work, sunshine and fun, I’m sorry to admit that I have not handled the first week back to school well. I appear to have turned into Grumpy Mummy. It was our best summer to date, with T being so much older and more manageable and I’ll be honest, I really bloody miss it already.

The kids seem to have settled into their new classes well and I’ve not had any complaints from them about being back in the routine, but I feel a bit like a floundering fish on a river bank, thrashing about pointlessly. I’m just not at all in my groove yet.

The leaves have started to fall too. Usually I love Autumn so much that I don’t care when summer ends, but not this year. Summer rocked and I don’t want to face the fact that it is over.

OK, so the school run gets to me by the end of term but I usually quite like the weekly routine of term time. It works. I know where every kid has to be on any given day of the week and I usually manage to get them there roughly on time without too much stress. But this time term has kicked off, with the clubs starting again next week, and I feel ridiculously behind the curve with it all. It is by some miracle that the older two made it to school every day and I feel totally drained by week one. God knows how I’ll manage with all the clubs starting.

Not only am I feeling that I am still very much in holiday mode in a regimented term-time world, but I have added the pressure on by choosing now as the time to start potty training the little one again. Foolish in the extreme, given that he literally could not give a monkeys about pooing on the loo. He keeps saying he is still a baby and babies wear nappies. That isn’t a great sign, is it?

imageI’ve become even more of an alcoholic too. On holiday we drank every day and I appear to have carried on that trend. I’ve got a bit of a cricked neck at the moment and the osteopath can’t fit me in for ages so it is kinda medicinal. Or so I tell myself. My neck is giving me headaches, which I treat with more booze. It relaxes the muscles, right? So surely it will help. Besides, I need it after a day of cleaning up wee and flicking poo out of pants. And it is either that or seriously lose my shit. Booze is about the only thing keeping Grumpy Mummy at bay some evenings. Sometimes the bedtime routine is just unthinkable without kids TV rolling and a massive glass of wine. Most times, this week. I’m definitely not even contemplating adding up my units.

I’m not going on a big downer here. I know this is just a bad combination of shit. The pain in the neck has a lot to answer for. It is hard to grab life by the balls when you have an neverending headache. And I maybe could have waited a couple of weeks to restart the potty training.

imageI’m almost certain that by this time next week, with a full week of school, work, clubs and all the jazz under my belt, I’ll feel totally on top of it all again. No doom and gloom. Just a bit of grump and groan. But I’m looking forward to feeling less grouchy and more on top of things.

We got our first homework back from school today; our first school newsletter giving dates of things right up to Christmas. There is no escaping it. Term has us in it’s grip. There is nothing to do but suck it down, even if it tastes rubbish.

My biggest concern about being in seriously Grumpy Mummy mode now that the weekend has landed is that I am liable to do something a bit daft. I am going out for dinner and drinks tomorrow with a brilliant mate who listens to all my moans and has a habit of plying me with more wine than I can handle. I can already foresee that Sunday is going to a right off. Part of me dreads the idea of doing homework with the eldest with a stinking headache but another (sadly much bigger) part of me is saying “Do it!! It will make you feel sooo much better about everything!” I have a suspicion I know which voice is going to win.

So, let’s write this weekend off. And then it is time to start scribbling on the calendar, planning the logistics of the every day, the juggling three small social whirls. And muttering under my breath “You can do it, you can do it”. Or, if that doesn’t work, muttering “Fuck fuck fuck fuck” from time to time. Whatever works, right?

Good luck everyone. Let’s beat the shit out of this school run bollocks.

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