Our elders have a penchant it seems, of imparting loving advice that instils horror into the modern mother. At nine months pregnant: “Rest while you can, you’ll never sit down again mwahahaha!” to the swift tune change of: “Enjoy the baby days, they don’t last forever!”
In seven days The Boy starts school. It’s a pivotal moment: “The baby years, gone so quick”, wizened old crones tell me; “It’s all over when they go to school” say the condescending masses; “They’re not truly yours anymore...” still more fervent cries.
School’s In Forever!
They say what we’re missing is a strong community of women around us, like they had in the dark ages. Really? More of this?
I am going to miss these days. I’ll miss the kids having the abandon to sing and dance, to shout hello to any passing paedophile; to have bums so small, they fall down the loo; their hysterical verbal blunders and of course their utter devotion to me! These things aren’t going to last, how can I stop their evolution?
Four and a half years ago, shortly after The Boy was born, I remember thinking, as my life had been tipped, turned upside down, that it’s only four years and I’ll get it back to a semblance of what it used to be. By that I mean that I will have the time to do what I want without the feeling that I’m robbing someone of something. And alright I begrudgingly admit it, it has gone quick.
So here we are. In the interim, I find myself changed. Predictable? Yes. Explainable? Let’s try.
Since my life was hijacked in 2008, and again in 2010, I only now operate on two speeds: intense hyper-power and blasting multi-task optimum-functionality. The thing with habit is, do anything for four and a half years, it sort of starts to feel normal. In addition to life moving at a pace that constantly borders on discomfort, I have enjoyed and endured the full remit of emotions: agony to insanity, hilarity to hysteria, sentimentality to... let’s call it chagrin. Oh and joy, loads of joy, that’s why Pampers and Aptimil adverts are chock full of women laughing their socks off. Oh hang on, no, they’re chock full of women mooning, cross-eyed and exhausted over their newborns.
And that’s just me; there are now, two more beings running around, full of nascent emotions that need indulging or evading.
The result it seems is that I’ve been turned inside out and backwards and now, cruel fact of life, I feel a lump in my throat every time I glance in the direction of his school uniform. I have relished this school holiday like none before, knowing my days are numbered.
To add even more salt to the wound, the brat is only turning out to be a decent sort, all nice manners and loving words, kind actions to Baby Girl and remarkably self-sufficient. Why can’t they take the other one? The one that keeps screaming, “I’m NOT screaming!” at me all the time.
Now hang on a minute, that’s just reminded me, I’ve spent most of the last four and a half years whinging! It’s been hard, at times really hard. Mothering doesn’t suit everybody’s natural skill base. Let’s pause for a moment on those well-meaning elder’s comments (often conveyed with sixty years hindsight) and consider:
There has been poo... a lot of poo, it’s been everywhere, between my toes, oozing out of the bouncer like a mud party and (courtesy of a helium balloon) it’s even been on the ceiling. There has been a whole library worth of words that have been wasted and useless as no one was listening. There has been less sleep than the statutory four hours the SAS require in order to stay alert. There have been frequent emotional crashes from all parties and more than a touch of physical discomfort.
And what really is the alternative? Home school? It wouldn’t stop him growing up. There are people who don’t grow up, and with the exception of Peter Pan, they have carers, carers who might have a thing or two to add to my list of gripes, perhaps an even longer list of hopes and dreams for their charges, and who rightly find my school-mourning, frankly irascible.
So far I can hand-on-heart tell you that I’ve never wished him to be younger, “Please oh please, can we go back to the days of no nights?”, or the ones of “But why?”
I’m actually really looking forward to learning more about my son, teaching him things that I have the experience and recollection of, like reading and writing, rather than peeing standing up and managing eternal bucketfuls of testosterone. One day he’ll tell me about a book he’s read, or a city he’s visited, or someone he’s met. I can’t wait. I love his take on the world, that’s not going to change because he’s grammatically correct.
So nothing will change on September the 5th that wouldn’t change anyway, he will still be my son. He will continue to be charming and funny and lovable and with the exception of a few pubescent years, he’s always going to be in there somewhere, I know it.