The lack of recent life updates on here doesn’t mean that nothing has happened, more that my penchant for oversharing (a vital ingredient for any decent blogger), appears to have migrated.
Having said that, one rather momentous/terrifying/releasing event happened a few months ago, that I feel the need to document – my last baby officially left school. Admittedly said ‘baby’ is now 18 – almost 19 in fact – and doing all of the usual things an 18 year old boy does (I shall spare you the gory details) but he’s my last one, so please indulge me.
Along with his promotion to adulthood and school-leaver, is the loss of my 18-year-long title of ‘school mum’. It’s difficult to remember life before the school run, endless after-school activities, world book day costumes, school gate cliques, sweaty soft play birthday parties on a Sunday afternoon. It would be true to say that some days I thought it would never end; but as with everything, it has.
Regular readers will know that one of the ways I process life changes, is to reflect on the past and consider what I’ve learnt (and in some cases, still learning). I thought it might be helpful/amusing to reflect on the last 18 years of parenting babies, toddlers, school age children and teenagers.
12 Things I’ve Learnt as a Parent to Under 18s (not an exhaustive list):
1. Pride comes before a fall – as soon as you think you’ve got it sussed, someone or something changes and you’re back to square one. Top Tip: Do not say it out loud, no matter how smug you’re feeling.
2. Nothing lasts forever – this includes every difficult phase and every lovely one.
3. The PTA mums aren’t all scary – I became one and have never regretted it; also made some great friends along the way.
4. ‘Easy’ children do not stay easy forever – if you’ve had an ‘easy’ toddler, you’ll be paying for it in the teenage years!
5. A dog is for life, not just for Christmas – ALL children renege on their promise to walk, feed and play with, the longed-for pet.
6. It’s not all about us – if you want to take credit for the good, you’ll have to take credit for the bad.
7. Children can teach us a lot – if only we can stay quiet long enough to listen.
8. Not being able to ‘fix it’ is the most painful experience in the world – It’s also an important lesson for both parties, try to stay open to the learning.
9. Everything eventually goes to pot – it doesn’t matter how many rules you create around household chores, or consuming of junk food, once they pass the age of manipulation, they make their own choices which may not be in line with yours!
10. Hindsight is both wonderful and destructive – I don’t think there’s a parent in the land who doesn’t wish they had done some things differently; recognising it is important, dwelling on it is unhelpful.
11. Don’t lose sight of yourself – if you have ever read the About Me section of my blog (which definitely needs updating) you’ll see that I started this blog with the intent of working out who I am outside of the ‘school mum’ title, and I’m so glad that I did.
12. It’s never too late to change, or apologise – see point 10.
I have two older adult children, so I’m not naive enough to think that parenting stops once they leave school, but it rightly morphs into something different. Family life challenges have caused this to be a complicated transition for us so far, but we are slowly working out what it looks like with each of our offspring.
Last weekend I took myself for a mooch around Marks and Spencers; as I passed the school uniform section, a tiny pang of nostalgia coursed through my veins. It wasn’t sadness or disappointment, it was merely an acknowledgement of a time gone by. This, I think, is the way I want to look at it – recognising that this season has passed, whilst being open to whatever the new one has to offer.