I sit here this morning overwhelmed with sadness. My ‘baby’ started school this morning. The last baby of 8.
I’ve been doing this parenting thing for almost 18 years, although I say over 18 years because parenting begins when that little extra line, cross, dot or whatever it is shows up on that pregnancy test. From that moment on you are entirely consumed with thoughts for another human being. I don’t see that ever changing. Even the twins, as they are almost adults themselves, still occupy my every waking thought. With 8 it’s pretty busy in my head.
I Remember them going to school. It was hard and I was sad but comforted that they had each other. Neither was particularly bothered, they ran in, delighted. My big girl, barely 4 then, (16 now) also ran in, very happy to be joining her brothers. Then Jonah. A tiny 4 year old (now 14 and just starting GCSE’s) who still spent much of the day sleeping went in happily apart from a few tears to start. Hugo (11 and just gone up to secondary school) skipped in, desperate to join his older siblings. Beau (9) was a different story. Incredibly sad, so angry at having to leave me. He’d run out the gates after me as I left. He never liked being separated from me. Play school was also near impossible. We were a pretty close unit as we didn’t have family near and my husband was away at sea. So it was always just me.
I really struggled, as did he. There is truly nothing worse in this world than leaving your baby crying in the arms of another and feeling powerless to help.
Blue went in happily as long as she could cling to a friends hand. As a grown up 7 year old she joined the junior school this year and was the same. Hand firmly in mine until she clocked her friend across the playground.
Art is different once again. They don’t respond to the same encouragement, cues or rules. He didn’t want to go to school. Or play school. He sobbed his heart out and wrangled with his 4 year old self at the prospect of school. We had tears in the months leading up “But HOW will I think of you in school mummy?” “What if I don’t make friends?” Amongst other stab to the heart chats.
So here I am. Sat at my desk thinking of my boy, probably incredibly sad but trying to hold it together. Is there anything I could have done? Should I have left him with more people as he grew up? Should I have carried him in a sling until he could walk and even then scooping him up whenever I could. Should I have left him to cry himself to sleep instead of letting him in to my arms so he could peacefully drift of. Should I have forced him in to play school? Did I love him TOO MUCH? Did I do TOO MUCH. Hang on, maybe I haven’t DONE ENOUGH to prepare him for this big world.
Of course, my children have been brought up the same way. All of them. I may have been a bit more strict on the food (skips for babies at 5 months is fine if given by an older sibling, right?) and routine when they were all under school age (mutiny by toddlers anyone?) Yet they are all different, they all developed at their own pace and enjoy different things. They all react differently to new situations.
This is hugely comforting to me. I still go over every tiny decision I’ve ever made and worry wether it was the right or wrong thing to do. That’s parenting for you. Guilt on top of guilt for that constant too much, never enough scenario.
Just take it from me, you’re doing a great job. The kid you are striving so hard to develop in to a great adult will get there, entirely on his own terms and at his own pace. Art will get there too, I know he will. I’m just not enjoying it, ok? I am NOT used to this feeling despite being here 7 times already. I still have some emotional wrestling to do.
Kids, eh? Who’d have em!