So my Small Small goes to Big School next week.
Well. Not next week, obviously, when the Big Small goes back. That would be too simple a September Childcare Challenge for the Working Parent!
Instead there is a week’s wait, the dreaded Teacher Home Judgement Visit, and then an interesting series of several hours in and around not including and then including lunch, followed by half days and, in theory only, an ACTUAL start somewhere in mid-September, which may or may not exist as a moment in time. WHO CAN KNOW?
(And hoovers for the home visit).
But beyond Mild Exasperation/PANIC, there are a lot of other emotions churning under the surface as we reach what’s a heavy milestone for everyone, first or second time round.
In my case, the Small Small (as the name implies) is also the Last Baby.
And she got big far, far too quickly.
The start of school marks so many ends, so many lasts – and so many of them slipped past without me noticing them. Not really. Not enough.
The last Mummy/Small Small one-on-one day.
The last sling ride.
The last rendition of Row row row your boat (don’t forget to scream).
The last buggy trip.
The last playgroup.
The last pull-ups.
The last time I walk into a room to find her in her pants, half upside down with a leg stuck out at a funny angle, telling me “Mummy, this is one of my nastics”. (She says GYMnastics now).
The last day of nursery.
The last of the delicious, squidgy thighs.
The last of babyhood…
The last of being a Mum to really small Smalls – something that has defined me, changed me, broken me, and MADE me, over again, for 7 years.
And I am gut-wrenchingly empty at the thought of losing that, losing her, losing me, losing us.
I’m also filled with excitement.
I’m excited about what she’ll learn and do and bring home and observe and SAY.
I’m excited to see her grow and thrive and learn and read and write.
I’m excited to receive my first ‘I love you’ note – and my first ‘I hate you’ note.
I’m excited to have more hours to myself.
I’m excited about doing chores SOLO and EFFECTIVELY – without eating into evenings and weekends.
I’m excited about having more energy to be the parent I want to be.
I’m excited about taking time to write, and be, and SHOP AT ALDI.
I’m excited to become – magically and without conscious effort – that Mum who turns up at the school gate in full make-up and Active Leisure Wear, who drops off the perfectly turned out poppets ON TIME, and goes for a jog and possibly an Iced Latte, which I will suddenly like the taste of, as well as being able to actually run without sweating all the make-up off, and as well as suddenly owning actual items of lycra that were manufactured AFTER 2003.
THIS WILL HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY DAMMIT DON’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME.
I’m excited about the freedom, what I’ll gain;
I’m terrified about what I’ll lose, set adrift.
And this, this mixture of feelings, this double view, this dichotomy, is very much my experience of motherhood.
Too often, I am two.
I am in two minds, I am both at once, I am opposites.
I am desperate for this long, long summer holiday to be over so I can get some routine back, and yet so conscious I only get 17 or 18 of them, if I’m lucky, these summers, and now she’s 7 I’m nearly halfway through with the Big Small and there isn’t anywhere near enough time left. There never will be.
I am desperate to touch them and feel their bodies against mine, and I want to be left alone in my own skin without being mauled, just for a minute.
I am love, so deep I can’t feel the bottom, and I am rage, so huge and ugly and mindless it scares the bejeezus out of me.
I am exhausted to the marrow of my bones, craving sleep all day, and too het up, too wired to drop off, too afraid of the next one.
I am enthralled by my children and SO DAMN BORED of the grinding monotony of parenthood.
I am happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been, and more desperately, hollowingly, harrowingly sad.
I dream of time by myself, my old life, the old me – and I wouldn’t change a thing, never want to leave them for a second, and hate it when Daddy weekends roll round so quickly.
I am all of these all at once, all ways, always, all days.
And it’s not just being in two minds.
There is a general and constant duality to motherhood, with the emphasis on DUEL – an eternal, internal conflict, double-taking, second-guessing, checking and re-checking, umming and ahhing, vacillating, a madness of options and choices and what-ifs and fears, and highs and lows and inconsistencies I can’t separate and won’t be boxed or contained or ordered.
Once, this was not the case.
I had one mind and it was SURE.
I had one feeling, and I knew it was TRUE.
There was black and there was white. Now there is gray and there is haze…
Being BOTH like this makes me feel like I am less, like I am less than I was, like I am nothing.
Like nothing I do or say or think or feel is right or certain.
And it feels like there is no path forwards, just twisting, concentric, confusing circles of smoke and mirrors.
But I’m trying to remember that both, by mathematical definition (as the Smalls starting school are soon to learn), is actually MORE.
By being and feeling and thinking everything all at once, I am more.
With my double vision and double heart I have more empathy, I can see more angles, find more solutions, create more patterns. Conceive more beauty.
Being both doesn’t make me nothing;
It makes me everything.
(Just possibly not Hyper Groomed Jogging Mum on the School Run).
Motherhood split me in two, twice, literally from the c-sections, and figuratively in so many other ways, so many other times.
And I am only just learning that this didn’t break me. It multiplied me. Like an amoeba – an aMUMba! And that is a type of success, a type of power. A type of immortality…
And as I am both again, in two minds over the Small Small’s school start, I also know I will continue to grow through this new division, and the next.
I CAN be both. It does not make me mad, or less, or stupid, or confused.
I can be EVERYTHING, at once.
I can divide, and conquer.
I am MORE than I was.
And so are you.