Monday, 2 September 2019

The Beginning Of The End Of The Beginning

The end of the summer holidays always makes me a bit philosophical, but this time it feels particularly poignant. In a year's time I'll be getting Preschooler ready for his first day at school. As I currently worry about how he'll fare with the childminder he'll be going to from this week onwards, I feel like I'm standing at the edge of a precipice. Until now he's spent every day with me, bar the occasional couple of hours. And while I've done this all before, the slow surrendering of my child to the education system, I'm very aware I'll mostly likely never do it again. My days as a mum of a pre-school-age child are drawing to a close.

Playing/reading in our local cafe on the last day of the summer holidays

There's something about being a mum in the early years, isn't there? It feels like a different status to that of school mum. I can't place my finger on why, but it lies within the play group camaraderie, the indulgent looks from old ladies, the leisurely feel of time passing, opening up opportunities for adventures, or just quiet days exploring the world together. I'm very conscious that it's probably a totally different experience for working parents, but for me the early years have held a certain kind of magic.

And also there's the fact that children in their early years are magic themselves. Watching a helpless newborn become a walking, talking, chaos-creating child is an incredible experience. And while there are many exciting advances in the school years, you share so much of that with the teaching staff. You often only see the progress they're making in hurried flicks through exercise books at parent's evening. It's not the same.

And then of course there's my current  school-age one, Girl Child, who will be going into Year 3. Yep, that's Key Stage 2. In a few months she'll turn eight years old, which according to some definitions is the start of the tween years. She's definitely leaving behind the 'little girl' stage, although possibly more slowly in some ways than her peers. But still, it feels like we're passing into new territory with her too. It's a cliché but kids do seem to grow up more quickly now. I'm not sure how longer I can shrug off her requests for make up and pierced ears. Nor do I know how much longer she will retain her Anti Boy stance.  It feels like a whole new world is about to open up.

And in amongst all this is the sense that I'm not quite grown up enough to deal with it. Parents with only school age children, with tweens or even teens, seem so much more mature, patient and together than me. This parenting stage has crept up on me - I still think of myself as a fairly new mum, how do I make the leap to sensible, knowledgeable, seasoned school mum?

Anyway, I'm not sure what the point of this post is other than to mark this time, this moment on the precipice, before everything changes. And maybe to find out that I'm not alone in this feeling.

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