Our new blogger Alex Molton reflects on the last year and peers ahead cautiously to the post-summer-holiday future.
As we approach another long summer holiday I have been reflecting, as I do every year, on the successes, challenges and stand-out moments from this academic year.
Whilst my daughter has adapted well to life at junior school and seemingly sailed through her first year of Key Stage 2, son #2 has almost completed his primary school journey, and is looking ahead to the next chapter of his school career with excitement and trepidation. Calendars for their term are filled with sports days, class assemblies, end-of-year plays, residential trips and leavers’ bbqs.
Son #1, meanwhile, has lumbered his way through Year 9, with seemingly endless homework and his first taste of formal exams, having missed Year 6 SATS due to Covid. About to embark upon arguably the most important two years of his young life, with exams ‘which matter’, he is carving himself out a path for life and planning ahead to the chapter beyond, already investigating university and apprenticeship options in his desired career.
Babysitting for a friend with younger ones this weekend and attending a 9 year old’s and a 14 year old’s birthday parties I couldn’t help but be struck by how quickly children transform from simple creatures, eager to share books, play football and have adventures with their friends, to young people on the precipice of adulthood, peering over the edge into a whole new world.
It’s perhaps the biggest of all the cliches, but where does the time go?
However, as another school year draws to a close, this year I feel proud not only of my children’s accomplishments, but of my own too; I’ve been on my own journey. As the children are growing up less of me is needed in their everyday lives. And gradually this year, bit by bit, I have sneaked back a little of what I was before they were here. I’ve tried doing some of the things I used to enjoy before parenthood and found that some are still my thing, others not so much. I’ve started a new career, pushed myself to try new things and stepped out of my comfort zone. And it’s been scary, but amazing to remember that I am far from just ‘someone’s mum’.
As many of my friends with smaller ones start planning their summer holidays with trips to splash parks, theatres, farms and meet-ups at the park – and a part of me would love to go back to those times for just one day – this year I am looking forward to a different kind of summer holiday. One where I don’t need to fill all of the hours with activities and worry about keeping the children entertained, but can instead liaise with colleagues, learn new skills and have some fun, knowing that for an amount of time the kids can keep themselves busy (son #1 wants to teach himself Java, which seems ambitious!) and that they can enjoy a holiday of their own design.
With the OH up to his ears in work (leaving me ‘in charge’), an eager new puppy who wants to play and work to juggle this holiday for the first time in several years, there will be challenges this summer. Despite these, I vow to celebrate the small moments; the days that go well, camping with friends, the bbqs and ice creams and walks with the dog. And to not feel guilty that we are not doing enough, that the kids are bored or that I am enjoying being at work. Before we know it it’ll be September again.