My third child started school today. I have allocated my baby's sleeping time to writing - not housework! I attended a brilliant session with Australian author, Tim Winton, yesterday. I felt whole again, totally fitting in. It affirmed my writing goals and settled a few demons I had in my head telling me I wasn't good enough to be a writer.
This space is for the moments I feel stuck. Some call it writer's block. That seems too medical to me. It is also a space for brain dumping and for 'talking' about some of the parental stuff going on in my life. A chance to get it out on paper and articulate some of my ideas.
On that note: my thoughts on starting school.
I haven't felt sad about any of my kids starting school. They haven't been anxious, which helped. They have been well ready to start. I have been well ready for them to start so I can 'get on with the next stage of life' so to speak. Not that I'm trying to rush them through or anything like that. But it isn't healthy to wish them to stay babies forever is it? That's the thing about being a parent. They grow up. You are theirs and they are yours entirely at the start. Each year they get a little more independent and a little less in need of you. It could hurt if I let it, but ultimately my children are not actually mine, I do not 'own' them, I have only the privilege of nurturing them with my best abilities and helping them on their way to an autonomous adult life. I am fortunate they are on the track to be able to achieve this- some parents have children who will never leave home, for instance if they have a disability or impairment. Think about that next time you grieve for a lost stage of your child's childhood - it is a good thing that they are growing up!
And then there is me. I have been a parent now for over eight years and have not worked outside home in seven years. It is high time I did something for me. Many parents feel this way after some time, at least I have heard this many times in conversation. Yes, I am a mother, but I am also many other things. Some of those parts of me have been completely neglected and I have mourned the loss of intellectual conversations, shopping alone, sleeping in and all those things. My independence really. The children have needed me to be there for them and I have made that a priority. As they are reaching greater levels of independence and I have some time to myself during the day (not just after bedtime when I am dog-tired!) I feel life pulling me back into a shape that more closely resembles a woman, not just a mother. That includes my body! I hope that makes sense. Moreover it is vital they see me enjoying things that aren't wholly related to them. I am a role model to them. They will learn from me (and their father) that doing things you like, that challenge you and spark an interest, are as important as the dinner I put on the table. Seeing me make things, read, sing to music, whatever, shows them how I stay happy and models how they might find things to do and like for their own happiness too.
So while my newest school girl learns her letters at school, her mother brushes up on her writing skills at home. She needs more than I can give her now. She needs friends her own age and to learn group rules and how to concentrate. She needs a life outside the home. She needs fun and activities. She needs to take instructions from someone other than me! I am not her all and everything any more and I celebrate that fact. She is learning. We are all learning, growing, gaining life a little more every day.
It's been nice chatting - see you tomorrow!