Being Present for your children

A Mother's Reflection

Within the last couple of weeks my year 11 son completed his GSCEs and my response to him leaving school was “thank god!” As my year 6 daughter prepares to leave her primary school, all I keep saying is “oh my god!”

I don’t know whether it is because she is the youngest and this is the very last time I will have a child in primary school but as this era draws to a close, I can say without manufactured dramatic effect, I am not coping very well.

I am extremely emotional, I am teary at the slightest thing and the thought of the Leavers’ Assembly makes my throat close –  I simply could burst into tears. 

To make matters worse, I keep hearing ‘You’ve got a Friend in Me’ belting from her room and know this is for the assembly. I don’t stand a chance!

I cannot bear the thought.

When I ironed my son’s school shirt for the last time, I was sad. I reflected on the last 11 years and how he had changed so much; how I had changed unrecognisably and our family unit had gone from a four to three but that was a good thing.

I spent a moment of gratitude and reflection, hung his shirt in the usual place and moved on. Yes, it was the end of an era but he was moving on to an excellent Sixth Form College and it all felt very natural.

However, this rite of passage from primary to secondary is having a profound effect on me. I find myself reflecting on the last six years and I think the problem is that they have flown by so quickly. This has heightened my awareness that nothing is permanent and their childhood is over so very quickly.  

I want to capture this time in our lives and freeze frame, I am simply not ready to move on.

There will be no more ankle socks and summer dresses, reading logs, spelling tests, swimming lessons and pictures on the fridge. She may not sit for hours telling me about her day- a real time, blow by blow recount of literally everything that has gone on. I could kick myself for all the times I didn’t listen attentively or cut her off.

Blazers and ties and tights and all things grown up will replace the trappings of childhood that I have taken for granted. I suspect social media will be the eventual priority and I refuse to even think about the prospect of ‘boys!’

As for her, she can’t wait, she is in an amazing school and is moving up to the main school; I have no fears of her being bullied or lonely and I am very lucky in that respect. I can’t imagine the added pressure of that horror.

I am already feeling the changes manifesting, she is more moody and temperamental as puberty creeps inevitably nearer. She is changing in front of my eyes and all of these fears are wrapped up in the form of the inexorable leaver’s assembly.

So, onto the ever nearing day when she leaves.  We’ve ordered the leaver’s hoodie; contributed to the traditional whip round for the class teacher (no more of that, when she has about ten different ones next year!) and bought the outfit for her leaver’s disco.

I am bracing myself.

As always, applying the positive mindset that has served me well over the years – I know it will be alright, this new dawn, this new era: it will be fine.

What I do know is that the leaving of primary school has been a wake up call for me. I realise now how quickly my children are growing; how fleeting their childhood actually is and how soon they will be gone. I can’t hold back the tide.

Never has Andrew Marvel’s concept of ‘Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near” been more relevant and that is what I will focus on and take from the whole painful rite of passage.

With all of this in mind, I’ll make a Half-Year Resolution: to be more present, to listen more to the minutiae of their lives and cherish time as the most precious and valuable commodity we have. I will not wish days away in an attempt to bring things nearer to fruition, I will make the most of every day and call on Marvel again…

Thus, though we cannot make our sun 

Stand still, yet we will make him run.

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