Today I would like to welcome Sarah Wayland of That Space In Between to Childhood 101 with a guest post sharing her perspective as a Mum reflecting upon her feelings as a mother when her daughter headed off to Big School last year…
This time last year we had purchased the most gigantic shoes that a little girl could wear, shoes that would have looked right at home at a clown show given their size to small person ratio. The uniforms were waiting patiently ready for someone to inhabit them and the vital ingredient of the right lunchbox had been accomplished. We were ready for Kindergarten.
There’s a lot of stuff that has to be purchased when your first born starts school but reflecting on the last year reminded me that most of the preparation didn’t involve the stuff, it involved the fine art of letting go. Of me letting go. I remember the first day – the getting ready, the ponytail, the pristine white socks and the slow (necessary to create memories) walk up the road to Big School.
The rest was a bit of a blur but when I came to again, I found myself hiding in the alcove outside the classroom watching her confidently sitting at a table with 5 other babies writing her name and colouring in. She was sorted.
The step towards school took me right back to the first months of being a mum. I kept imagining during those lonely nights of rocking her to sleep by myself of what our lives might look like when she started school, it felt like a milestone that was far enough away for it to be free to be anything I dreamt it could be. Looking through the kindergarten door at her chatting confidently to new friends was truly like looking through at the image I had imagined so many years ago. Time really does fly by.
When I returned home from school that morning I had an ache in my chest that came and went for the first few weeks of term one. I couldn’t put my finger on it; I went through the motions of making lunches every day, understanding the rigmarole of the homework reader and the fine art of playground conversation with other new parents. But despite all of my new found skills I still didn’t feel right, I had another bub to look after but my days felt a little empty, quiet, like the tumbleweeds of preschool had blown threw my house and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t catch up to where we were now. I missed my girl.
We (OK, I) slowly got into a better rhythm. I started to think that this was a new learning curve. I had to trust that she wouldn’t wander out of the playground at lunchtime and that teachers were not the same as preschool teachers – hugs weren’t on tap, bottoms would never be wiped again, food would not be cut up. All of that was replaced with a new love affair with the school librarian (her, not me!), the magical world of learning and the comfort of the school day routine.
I can’t quite believe that we are now getting ready for another school year – the shoes have been bought (2 sizes larger than last year), the uniform hems have been let down and I know the routine now – both in my head and my heart. Good luck new mums and dads, take lots of pictures, feel a bit sad about the quiet and strap yourself in for a whole new ride!
Sarah Wayland has been working as a Social Worker in the missing persons field since 2003 and after years of sharing stories with the media she now writes about life and loss and the spaces in between. Sarah is currently a part-time stay-at-home mum, part-time public servant and part-time postgraduate student in the field of hope and loss at the University of New England. She blogs at thatspaceinbetween.com.
If you have a little one starting school this year, you might find these Starting School posts helpful. And for all parents with children in childcare, preschool or big school, be sure to enter both of these great giveaways;