This blog post title sounds like a post on a mums’ forum, and in some ways, it could be. I’ve just waved my nearly-five-year-old off to full time school. He loves it. He bounces in first thing in the morning, and bounces out again full of his favourite anecdotes from the day. I had a full extra year with him compared with his older brother (who is a summer-born boy, and went to school aged just 4). He is so ready for all of the knowledge, experiences, excitement and socialising that this new stage of life is bringing him. He is not sad about it AT ALL.
And I’m so ready for the evolution of our family, too. We made the decision that I would take an official career break when the first one came along, because we felt that would work best for us. Number Two arrived as well, and our relocation to Milton Keynes not long after that meant that returning to my career at North Yorkshire Police would be impossible anyway; so whatever I was going to do, once the children went off to school, would be have to be a brand new beginning.
I’ve done a few things to keep the professional side of my brain active in the intervening years – articles for my old school’s alumni magazine, blog posts for Mum to Mum MK, and becoming a school governor. But the things that have consumed my time and my mind have been the family’s routines – who is going where, what baby groups, toddler groups, preschool activities we have on this week, developmental milestones, diet, exercise, choosing a preschool, choosing a school. Only in the last year, when the baby has been at preschool for three hours a day, have I felt able to start writing on that blank page of my new career – my own business.
And now…now I have six hours. Six hours EVERY DAY, and with no break in the middle for picking up or dropping off a small person somewhere, and then turning round two hours later to get them again. And so far I have loved every flipping day of it. When I get home from a successful school run, my time is my own – and my business’s. We all benefit from me having time to bring in money again, but no-one more than me. I have more space to think, plan, breathe and be Becky, as well as being Mum.
And this makes me feel so guilty. Shouldn’t I be missing him, the baby who has been shamelessly and devotedly glued to my side for nearly five years? Shouldn’t I be grieving for the departure of that never-ending, but so brief, baby and toddlerhood? Shouldn’t all my time be consumed with thoughts of the children, as it has been for the last seven years? Didn’t I give up any right to my own time when I chose to have children? That’s what we are told as mothers from all sides, from the moment of conception.
And the truth is, I do mourn the passing of the baby days. I miss the snuggles, the warmth, the giggles, the simple problems (even if they seemed mountainous at the time!). I know that I will never be so needed, ever again in my life. I will never be the centre of another person’s world like that, not ever again.
It is the highest privilege of my life to have become a mother, and to experience all of the perfect highs and desperate lows that are in its gift. I know how to be the mother they need all the time – I’ve had seven years’ practice. So should I be more sad that they don’t need me like that any more? I think the answer is no – they’re fine with it, and it’s fine if I am too. But what I do need to get used to now, is being the mother they need a little bit less. And to work on not feeling guilty about embracing it, and enjoying it too.