Has your child just started school, or can you remember when they did?
My younger child started school last September. He was so excited! He had been in and out of the playground for three years, dropping off and collecting his sister. He was nearly five, and a very confident individual. When people asked me if he was “ready for school”, my answer was a resounding yes.
But was I ready? I thought I was. His starting was tinged with sadness – I had enjoyed spending time with him on the days when he wasn’t at nursery school and it was just the two of us. I knew he’d be fine, so after just a few tears on his first day, I moved on.
Or I thought I did.
A new phase of life
I had been studying for eight years, and was now able to start my new job. These were exciting times for me as well! I was also going to be having one day off work per week, in which I could do all of the things I hadn’t found it easy to do having children with me. I would finally have a little bit of time to myself.
So why was I sad? Why did I feel like I was in mourning?
One friend said she felt that her child had been stolen from her by the education system. She wasn’t in a financial position to home-school, and was grieving over her child. Someone else said that once his children had gone to school, that was it – he felt he had lost them.
Not knowing about their lives
Is it, perhaps, that we have less of an idea about what they are doing when they are at school? We don’t get a little report each day from their child minder or key worker to say how they’ve been? It is worse when they start secondary school, I am told. A parent commented that this is the first time she won’t be meeting the teachers, or having any idea who her child is friends with. It is hard.
When my daughter was tiny I remember a friend saying that children growing up is like a long, slow goodbye. They may go to nursery or a child minder, and then it is pre-school. Next comes full-time school, where we still have contact with their teachers. Then, off to secondary school and college, and perhaps university. We bring our children into the world to slowly let them go.
Admitting to myself
I found it hard to admit that I was in mourning. It was as if I didn’t want to own my sadness. Perhaps I felt a little ashamed to be finding it so difficult.
It feels like this society encourages us to cut the apron strings as soon as possible, and that it is frowned upon to want to spend more time with your children. I think I would have dealt with it better had I acknowledged to myself that I was sad, and that I missed my little pal and the mummy friends I had made along the way. It is okay to find times of transition difficult.
I think I need to allow myself more space to recognise my feelings and to process them before moving on, rather than burying them in the business of life.
Do you have any strategies for getting through the difficult times?
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