Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Posts tagged ‘starting school’

On the threshold

So. This is it. This week my family’s lives change forever; DD starts school on Wednesday and our cosy time as a preschool family comes to an end. But before that comes another big change as DH starts work tomorrow after 14 months unemployed.

In practical terms we’re ready. DD’s school uniform is bought, washed and named; the ridiculously oversized Spiderman backpack that she begged to have as her schoolbag is ready; DH’s shirts are washed and hung up, ready for the week ahead.

Surprisingly enough I think we’re almost mentally prepared too. DD is still nervous about school, although she’s looking forward to playing on all the cool stuff in the special Reception playground again (we didn’t have climbing frames, tricycles and mini racetracks when I was at school!). I’m nervous too – I know I’m going to miss her dreadfully, even though as a summer baby she’ll only be going for the mornings at first. I’m going to miss DH as well, I’ve enjoyed having him at home and his presence has helped me to cope better than I otherwise might have done. My anxiety is going full throttle but I’m mostly able to mute it to an annoying buzz.

However, part of me is looking forward to the challenge. I’m looking forward to having proper one-to-one time with DS, and maybe even finding a half decent toddler group to take him to while DD’s at school. I’m looking forward to having some routine to our lives again. I’m feeling more socially acceptable; while DH was unemployed I felt like a lazy, benefits-claiming stereotype despite the fact that I am unfit for work at the moment. Now I feel as though my position as a stay-at-home parent is more justified, that I am going to be pulling my weight properly in this family instead of coasting along relying on DH.

Over the last few days, as we’ve put the finishing touches to DD’s pirate-themed bedroom and gone on a family day out, I’ve even felt happy. Right now though I feel nervous. Scared. Sad. But I also feel cautiously optimistic and strangely hopeful. It’s as though there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. I think and hope that this is the start of a positive new chapter in our lives, that in years to come we’ll look back and say “That’s when we started to get back on our feet, when things finally started to improve”.

All change

September is going to be a difficult month for me. There are a couple of very major changes due to occur in my life and I don’t cope with that sort of change very well. In fact I’m feeling overwhelmed and panicky just thinking about it.

First of all DD, my eldest child, will start school. She only turned 4 a few weeks ago and will be among the youngest in her class. I know she’s ready for school; she’s a confident and sociable child and her reading and maths abilities are way ahead of most children her age. It’s a great school, her teacher seems lovely and she enjoyed her visits there last term. She’s a bit unsure and nervous of course but I know she’ll enjoy it once she’s settled in.

I’m dreading it though. I feel, somewhat melodramatically, that school is taking her away from me and our lives will never be the same. Even in the holidays there will always be the spectre of school looming ahead, ready to reclaim her. I love our time together, being able to have days out and pyjama days and do whatever we like. I’m going to miss her dreadfully and we will never have this sort of time together again. I briefly wondered about the possibilities of home educating but I know that DD will benefit more from attending school. Also, if I’m completely honest with myself, my mental health isn’t good enough to be solely responsible for her education.

The second big change in our lives is because DH, after 13 months of unemployment, has finally been offered a job! He’s very pleased of course, and so he should be, he’s worked hard for this. Unfortunately he starts a couple of days before DD starts school so he won’t be able to see her off or collect her on her first day. And after he’s completed his training he’ll be working shifts so life is going to be all over the place for a while until we’re used to the new routine.

So in just a couple of weeks time our lives are going to be turned upside down. In a good way, mostly, but I’m worried about how I’m going to cope. I’m already planning to force myself out to some toddler groups with DS, because it would be all too easy to remain housebound apart from the school run. And maybe I’ll finally get on top of the housework, although I doubt it!

But the idea of looking after everything on my own terrifies me. I feel like such a wimp; lone parents have it far harder than this, parents with more than 2 children have far more to cope with. But this is me and I’m afraid that I will fail. Even simple things like bedtimes will he hard – DS still nurses to sleep but how can I do that when DH is working late shifts and I have to settle both children? I can’t just abandon DD for half an hour or more while I nurse her brother, it wouldn’t be fair. But DS won’t settle any other way, he’s not ready yet.

My mind is whirling. I know that these changes are positive and that in time I will become used to our new life and wonder why on earth I ever worried. But right now I want to just lock the door and keep my little family in our familiar bubble, our familiar life. And I know I can’t.

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