This morning my oldest boy donned an oversized blue sweater, grey teflon trousers and black leather dinosaur shoes (which he swears help him to run faster than any other 4 year old). All in all the clothes looked baggy but of course I told him how handsome / gorgeous / smart he looked. And he did look great – in a Michelin Man kind of way. He looked so cute. Just how I imagined my child to look on his first day at school. We have prepared for this day in all the usual mummy ways: attending school introductory meetings, sowing nametags into clothes, playing imaginary ‘school’ with Avenger characters. I thought I had prepared for all eventualities, both practical and emotional. However the one thing I hadn’t prepared for was the emotional response this day would evoke inside of me.
If I track my journey back, my reaction to this event began last night, manifesting in some weird physiological manner. My heart beat quickening. Sweating palms. The irritability dial turned up high, swift to respond to any slight demand my family could make of me. It was only after an hour or so, after the school bag was packed and all trouser hems sowed, that I realised what was going on. I was nervous. I was afraid. I was saddened. My heart was crumbling. I was letting go of my baby boy, allowing him an inch more of independence. I had prepared him soundly for this transition (his ease in entering the classroom a testament to my good mummy work) but I had forgotten to prepare myself.
The mummies I meet are very good at this… shelving their own feelings and needs to ensure the emotional protection of their children. At 5.30am each day I can guarantee that around the UK there will be mummies in their millions, clambering out of their warm beds to make sure the house is tidy, dishwasher emptied, laundry ironed, school bags organised, allowing themselves maybe five minutes to grab a quick cuppa and slap on some gloopy, out-of-date mascara before waking their children for the day ahead. During these early morning moments I often imagine other women going about their business, preparing for the day, so I don’t feel quite so alone or isolated. It makes me feel part of a fabulously, wonderful, organisationally slick yet secret team. I use the word ‘secret’ because it is only when you become a mummy yourself that you realise the dedication and the skill that it involves. I am constantly amazed by these women. These mummy women are understatedly inspirational. They look for no financial gain and no thanks. Let’s face it… if that’s what you’re after, you’re in the wrong blobbin’ job.
But the most hidden secret is that the link you have with your child (that link you thought was only temporarily there through pregnancy) stays. This spiritual umbilical cord doesn’t leave you. It is evidenced by the sickening sensation a mummy feels when her child takes a closer step to independence. The child moves further from you, your heart breaking as the next phase in life becomes apparent: birth, nursery, school, university, leaving home, marriage. Yet, us graceful, dignified, amazing women smile, giving our children confidence and strength. We smile while our hearts ache, while tears form in our eyes. We stop our lips trembling with fear and sadness while together with our child we look hopefully to their future.
Mummies of the world, you are amazing. I’ll be thinking of you at 5.30am tomorrow, astounded by your resilient grace.
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