As the Summer Holidays draw to a close some might experience a feeling of subdued jubilation…. a barely stifled inward YEEEE-HA!!!… (Not you dear reader, other, lesser parents).
The holidays are almost over and it’s time to sprint out to your local stationery store and feverishly purchase pencils and exercise books for your darling, and slightly mutinous kiddies who will soon be in need of ongoing education and most importantly of all – be absent for six hours a day, five days a week.
Whether this is the long-awaited kindergarten year for your firstborn, or time to launch the second or third child through the school gate for the very first time, I can tell you it is bittersweet and it doesn’t get any easier.
I still remember the day I said goodbye to my firstborn. There she was – at first glance a large mobile bag and hat propelled by two small legs; closer inspection revealed an impossibly tiny person underneath, powering along like an excited tortoise. We walked to the drop off point, me holding back on the ugly crying and Hannah skipping excitedly ahead of me in her oversized, crisp new uniform. The time came and we hugged goodbye. I sputtered teary-eyed, “Now you have a great day, make lots of new friends and I’ll see you back here after school finishes, I’ll miss yo……” I didn’t get to finish my sentence because after she briefly put her chubby arms around my neck, she was gone, and I was left to choke on her dust. She never even looked back. Not once.
I stood there dumbfounded, I thought the tears and clinging would be from her, not me (I was looking forward to a peaceful celebratory soy-latte-half-a-sugar on my own with a magazine, something that I hadn’t done since she emerged from my uterus) but she didn’t even turn around, I felt momentarily offended. I drew in a few sharp jerky breaths, put my head down and bolted to the car just before the dam broke. There I sat behind the steering wheel, sobbing uncontrollably and trying to catch my breath as I took in the emotion of this momentous parenting milestone and the great and contradictory spectrum of feelings I was experiencing…. and the quiet…the deafening quiet. I thought I’d be elated; maybe I’m not such a bad mum after all…
Two years later, rinse and repeat, I launched child number two through the school gate. It doesn’t get any easier, but somehow we all adapt and soon it becomes the norm. Like the Joni Mitchell song, “The circle game”, where the seasons they go round and round and, ‘we can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came’. Who wants to go back anyway? We just want to cherish each season we have with our kiddies and move on to the next with as few regrets as possible.
So as you drop your little ones (and big ones) off to school, or wave them goodbye at the front door with their shiny new shoes and freshly sharpened pencils, don’t feel guilty for breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays are over. Sometimes we all just need a little time to miss each other!