As every day gets us closer to Christmas and the end of the year, I realise I’m carrying a little pang of sadness around in my heart.
It’s with me as I watch my five-year-old attempt the monkey bars at the park on an idle Monday, as his little brother follows him around the yard like a shadow when we are hanging at home, and when they climb into bed with me for morning snuggles on our non-rushy ‘have to get to preschool/work’ days.
While I can’t deny this sadness is there, I don’t think I am alone in feeling it.
I know I am not the only parent taking part in school orientations this week as I prepare my eldest for the classroom with the rows of bag pegs outside and rocket crafts hanging from the ceiling.
I know I am not the first mum to ever wonder if her preschooler really is ‘school ready’ – even though he’s five and the law says it’s time to start him on this journey – too.
I get that.
But I also know I am not the only mum to be in a state of sort of mourning (and that sounds so dramatic, I know!), in the lead up to her child starting school.
Will I feel differently when it's my second son's turn?
Maybe I won’t feel this underlying sadness by the time my second son dons a backpack, and the same emblem-crested school hat in a couple of years' time.
Maybe by then I will relish the ease of only having one drop-off and my youngest being happy to be back by his brother’s side, even if it’s just the comfort of knowing he’s in the schoolyard with him.
Maybe this is just something you feel when your first child starts school?
Listen to Kinderling Conversation: Is my child ready for school?
The end of the 'us' chapter
But I feel it now. And now I am thinking about it, I think I know why.
My boy starting school is the end of the ‘us’ chapter of our lives.
Those early years of it being mainly me and my little loves.
Their small hands in mine as we strolled down to the corner shop to buy loo paper, because we’d run out and it was something to do with them ... that sort of thing. Or swimming lessons on a Monday morning followed by a play at the park because we felt like it.
Us just doing life, but doing it on our time.
And yes, I work part-time now and there is an element of our lives being scheduled – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are our rushed ‘quick! Get out the door on time’ days but I am in control of that. As long as I get to work on time, I can drop them off a bit earlier or later at childcare. There’s no start time. And holidays! We just pull the boys out of kindy when we get the time off and hit the road. We are not bound by school holidays or term dates.
But soon that will all change
Soon we will have to get out the door and be at school before the bell chimes at 8:50am, five days a week. Holidays will have to be planned and saved for because everything is more expensive during ‘peak season’. He will be tired after school and will need consistent bedtimes. Life will feel a little less free.
So until then, I am going to enjoy the last of our ‘us’ days. I will savour this time together and visit our favourite spots on our non-work/preschool days. I won’t be in a rush.
We have 13 years of that!
But while I might be a little sad at the loss of ‘us’, that my boys are growing up – as paradoxically sad and exciting as that is, there is one thing I am very much looking forward to:
No more childcare fees!
Well for my big boy anyway. That’s actually something to get very, very excited about. And that extra money will hopefully help pay for holidays during expensive school holiday holidays. So yay for that.
And as the saying goes, the end of one chapter, as lovely and special as it was, is the start of another. So chin up, fellow school mums. This next chapter might just be great.
This post originally appeared on Babyology.
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