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I am not sure about anyone else, but the last weeks have felt as if I have lost something and I cannot remember where I have placed it. My third and last child started full days at school last week and those extra hours he is normally with me has felt like torture. Many may see this as an overdramatic reaction, but I do hope these feelings are empathised with by other mums out there.
Do not get me wrong, I am a busy person and have my week filled with work, household chores, kids out of school activities and shopping, but I have never been one to wish for the day my child went to school. His growing up has been so fast and his baby, toddler and pre-school years merged into one another with me feeling I wanted to press pause on every one of them. He has started school without any problems. He hasn’t clung to my leg or shed tears, he has gone in waving goodbye with a big beaming smile. Has this been easier for me? Did I want him to have the other reaction where he showed signs of not wanting to leave me? No, I am happy he has gone to school each day looking forward to it. Did I want to cling to his leg and not let him go from me? Yes, I did!
Knowing he is safe and secure and happy in his classroom I have returned home to an empty, very quiet house. Having had my weekly routine mastered down to the minute I carried on my week as normal, but every day my work, chores and housework seemed to finish by lunch time as they did when he was at nursery. Sitting still is not in my make-up and so the feeling of loss in the afternoon without my little buddy has been painful. Even on the days I had things to do he was still there in the background playing with his cars.
In this new space of time, I have cleaned and cleaned and ironed and cleaned. The house could not be cleaner. I have felt my cleaning obsession which I had after the birth of my first child (it was a control thing) returning. I know it cannot continue this way. With the foresight of my boy starting school I have also managed to secure a part-time position locally. Not many hours a week, but it will be enough to fill that void of time I am struggling with. I do not start for a couple of weeks so from now until then my cleaning may continue.
These feelings of separation are making my stomach ache. For the last four almost five years I have been the one to make his lunch, chat to him, teach him his numbers. Now he is in someone else’s care for the best part of the day. His independence is also growing as he will be encouraged to do more things on his own, from putting his shoes on to getting changed for gym class. Did I feel like this with the other two? Yes, I did, but as each of the other two went to school their siblings were there to keep me needed. There are so many parenting books about separation issues with children. Please someone tell me how to cope with parent separation?
My thoughts on all this have made my mind whirl. If this is how it feels when my boy has started school how on earth will I feel when my three children, hopefully, go off to university and leave home. Luckily again as with school, this process will be staggered as my three are of varying ages, but I am realising that for the last 14 years my life has been my kids, as I am sure it has been for many mums, but now it is time to find me. If I don’t, by the time the first goes to Uni I fear I may fall apart.
*40 Shades of Mum is Louise Smith, mum of three.