A new chapter vs “I don’t want her to grow up”?
Wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, cake-lover, handbag-obsesser, list-writer, enthusiastic but impatient gardener, talkative, tall….
This is me. My reality for the past six years is that I have been a mummy to two girls as well as running my Life Coaching and Image Consultancy business alongside being all these things…and at times it has been a great mix. I could choose my hours, I could be with my children for important events, I could do something I love and am passionate about, therefore helping to break the sometimes monotonous trudge of looking after small kiddies. But it also brought huge challenges…. giving a Consultation on how to dress your best and realising I have yoghurt (thrown at me earlier from an irate toddler) splattered on my shoe, or the times being really under pressure for a meeting whilst needing to hang out the washing, batch cook bolognaise, or best yet- clearing up dog sick and chicken poo from hessian carpet – a real low point!
However, it’s all about to change again as my youngest child is going to school. I am being pulled between being so excited at getting more time for me and my business whilst feeling bereft at saying goodbye to the “littlies” stage. In fact, I am needing all my Life Coaching skills to navigate through the emotions as well as the reality.
So my little girl starts school in a month…she will have been four for three weeks and five days. We will walk the 200 yards from our gate to the classroom door (easy commute!) and there I will leave her…in a place where she knows there is a dolls house in the classroom and they are allowed to play with playdough; she likes playing with the big “dirwls” (girls) in the playground and her teacher is called Mrs Curtains (Curtis!). Here her knowledge ends….she has no idea the expectations of a ‘formal learning environment’; her life up until now has been nursery on a few days a week interspersed with Monkey Music, playdates, feeding the ducks, dog walks, picnics, playgrounds, painting and cooking…all with me.
Whilst she is in a rather blissful state of ignorance about this next stage…. taking it all in her stride and accepting the change, I meanwhile, am not! I will now be one of those mothers who I was so confused by when I took my first child to school and I saw them hurrying away from the school gates, having dropped their child off on their first day with tears were streaming down their face. I couldn’t understand why they were finding it so hard…for me it felt like a rite of passage as my daughter was so ready for the next stage. She could read and write and was so ready to learn and soak up all that school had to offer (she has an October birthday and was therefore much older at this stage then my younger child) I questioned myself a lot…what was wrong with me? Why was I so fine about it?
Now I will be that woman….trying to gulp back the tears that represent so much…but ultimately are the grief you are feeling at leaving the “baby years” behind.
In many mother’s lives it is such a confusing stage …after years at home, looking after your children and the joy and challenges that it brings…suddenly you are handed back a large proportion of your life again. Granted- the hours between 9-3 seem to go quicker than is strictly fair …. but still…. you have more time than you had before. Time that you used to crave so much when you just wanted to pee in peace, send an email with clear thought, make and drink a HOT cup of tea and have an uninterrupted conversation on the phone without having to hide in the loo and speak louder to drown out the shouts of “MUMMY!!” from outside the door!
This time can be filled in any which way you chose it to be, for me it will be to build up my business to where I have been wanting to take it since I started out 12 years ago. For others it might be making a new career direction into something they have always been interested in or simply becoming a font of all knowledge about what the Kardashians are up to! Whichever option- the gates to the big, wide world are now opening and you have to go through them. No longer can I hide behind the comfort of those baby years where time is unstructured and familiar…away from the scary things of life and where everyone is as friendly as Mr Tumble.
For me, I have juggled my work with the snatches of available childcare time. However, now I will have the time to fully explore all the opportunities it brings and get “out there” and meet new people and explore new avenues without the constant stop/start of a week broken up by the many different roles I fulfilling.
I feel so excited that I can now move my “desk” out of the playroom and into a proper grown up space of its own. I won’t have to move the half coloured-in drawing of Elsa or the bits of spat out apple pip off my diary; I will have a clean, clear adult space in which to get to work. I feel so excited that I will be able to write “to-do” lists in a proper pad and not on the back on an envelope I found in my bag while I was in the playground and my phone was dead…. My thoughts will be free flowing (hopefully) as they won’t be interrupted with “Mummy…I’m hungrey!”
So this is what it boils down to…the pull of being someone other than ‘mummy’ and having the time to put yourself first (only sometimes- let’s not get too excited now!) but at the same time grieving for the precious, safe, and in lots of ways, uncomplicated years with your children when they were little.
This kind of grief and big lifestyle change is a tricky one- it needs time, acceptance, recognition and ultimately, managing. So I will practice with what I like to remind my clients of…… Lesson #1: be kind to myself and give myself time to adjust to a new chapter. In reality this will entail a week or two of magazine reading, coffee drinking, desk tidying, laundry cupboard sorting and “business to do list” writing…. After this I will be starting Lesson #2: embrace the change and don’t run away from it…. So I will be shoving myself out the door with arms outstretched, saying to the world “I’m back…have you missed me?”