Smallest Boy will be donning his bright yellow school bag (this is subject to change) in a matter of months and marching (I hope) through the school gates with his three older brothers.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t been waiting for this day for a long time.
He stayed with me for more than four years. When he was “of pre-school going age” he expressed a strong preference to remain at home. I listened and he stayed.
Then his ECCE year rolled round and I thought it best that he goes as to send him into school fresh off the plate would not be a kind thing to do.
I like to think the fact he stayed with me for the first four years of his life has a lot to do with his confidence and his ability to get on with others.
Basically he is ready to go to school.
Ultimately I am ready for him to go.
I am a person who likes and needs her own space. Others, when they experience an upset, might comfort eat or enjoy alcohol a bit more than usual. I am the opposite. In order to cope with whatever life throws at me, I need to retreat away and into myself.
Not so easy to do when small children are about and being incessantly demanding.
However, I am very thankful that in this, our rollercoaster, have it all world, I was the one at home with my four boys. Yes, I was frustrated at times. The boredom knew no bounds and this too shall pass became my mantra. But I am very aware of how lucky and privileged I am to have been in that position.
I already know I will not be shedding any tears when this, the last of my children goes to school.
I did not shed any tears when my first went through those gates and I know I will not shed any when my fourth follows suit.
Because I have cried enough.
There were very early parenting days when I was crying before my husband had reached the front door on his way to work. There were evenings when I mentally screamed, “where are you?” when 6pm rolled round and he hadn’t walked through the door at that exact moment.
I sought out shopping centres where I spent a fortune on take out coffee which was gulped down at the ride on toys. Some days I was lucky and another parent was also standing there. We would chat. Compare notes. It was glum and made for depressing eavesdropping but I always came away feeling much better and sometimes even smiling. Thank god, I would think, thank god I am not the only one who feels this way. I spoke to a younger mother in a park once who told me she woke up that morning and lay there crying as she asked herself how she was going to get through the next 12 hours. I often think of her and wonder how she is doing today.
So, he’s off to school. I get asked at least once a week, “what will you do with all that extra time?”
Well, here’s the thing. For the last 9 months I have become quite used to starting a task and getting to finish it without being interrupted a gazillion times. I have enjoyed many, many cups of scalding hot coffee. I wrote a lot. I went for a run most mornings. I did the usual cleaning and tidying before preparing a lunch time meal. Then it was almost midday and I needed to be off for a Montessori pick-up.
I will carry on in that way. I will run. I will write. I will tidy the house. Maybe. This is a new stage in my life. A new stage for everyone. I will once again be flung into the world of a junior infant who misinterprets social signals in the playground and believes the other kids are out to get him. I will have to listen to his complaints and wipe away tears as I do so. I will have to contend with establishing new school gate relationships. New friends mean new mothers to meet. There will be a settling in period for us all but having been there three times before I know each child has their own way of doing things.
Once again I will most likely just go along for the ride. Because none of us really know what’s ahead until we’re there.
It is all onwards and upwards in this mad, crazy, never-ending, always changing world called parenting.
And a big little part of me likes it.