I am not the kind of mama who is always prepared for any situation or knows what to do at any given moment. You’ve seen her, I’m sure: the confident, cool, together mama who looks great and says the right thing all the time. She’s the same kind of mama who always packs tissues, healthy snacks, wipes and an age-appropriate activity for her child to do, no matter the occasion. No, I’m more like the i-hope-i-brushed-my-hair-before-i-left-the-house kind of mama, the kind who frantically looks for a used Mc Donald’s napkin when the kids’ noses start running, the kind that will bribe her kids with chocolate and sit them in front of the tv for an afternoon of peace. More often than not, I’m flying by the seat of my pants and praying that they’re not ripped, mismatched or stained.
So with my biggest boy starting school next week, you can imagine how together and ready I feel. Ok, so technically I am ready in the sense that his reading bag is ready to go, his uniform’s labelled and he has sparkly new shoes, but mentally ready? Not.At.All.
I thought I was prepared and holding my s**t together, but as the reality of the situation begins to set in, I realise that I am not ready at all and I didn’t expect to feel this way.
Up until now, I have been the leading lady in his life, his teacher, his nurse, his confidante, his best friend…but as of next week that all changes. He will be starting a new chapter in his life. One where he’ll take those next big steps on his journey to independence and adulthood, and for the first time, he’ll be doing it alone without me by his side. I’m not ready.
I know I’m not the first mama to feel this way and I certainly won’t be the last, but him starting school marks a huge change in our lives and I am struggling to come to terms with it. Five out of seven days of the week he will be with his teacher and new friends. I will walk him to the school gate every morning, kiss him goodbye and hand him over to someone else. I’m not ready.
Someone else will teach him new things, see new firsts, listen to his worries and pick him up when he falls. They’ll experience the pleasure of my biggest boy – the little quirks and traits that make him who he is. They’ll nurture him, influence him and shape his future in a way that I may not want or agree with. I’m not ready.
The truth is, I’m just plain sad to see my boy leaving preschoolhood– with its impossibly tight hugs around the neck and breathy whispered secrets before bedtime. The baby days, toddler days and days of us just being together are coming to an end. It’s bittersweet. I often feel like I’m in a state of half-mourning and half-celebrating with each new phase and milestone. So while I’m sad that he won’t be here with me every day, I am excited to see him begin the next part of his journey.
I’ll be there in the playground waiting to see the new book he pulls from his reading bag, to hear him excitedly tell me about what he did that day or what he learnt in class. I’ll be the one baking cakes for fundraisers, cheering the loudest at sports day and shedding a tear during the Christmas nativity.
He’ll lose a bit of that innocence that comes with being little and wrapped in cotton wool, but he’ll be full of potential and promise and he’ll become the person he was destined to be.
Most of all, he will continue to make me the proudest mama alive, just as he has done since the day he arrived.
But I’m not ready.