This time last year it was Bayley who was preparing to make a big change. From primary school to high school. Now it is Sabrina’s turn. She is about to make the big transition from daycare to primary school. That’s right, all of our children will be at school. NO MORE DAYCARE! After 13 years and over 340 fortnightly payments we will be finished with that stage.
I’ve been noticing for a while now, that there’s a lot less of Sabrina being “the little one” and a whole lot more of her simply being one of “the kids”. Recently when we were at a park she went off exploring in the bush with the boys, rather than staying with Dean and I.
As “the little one” school holidays have usually made no difference to her. She has kept going to daycare, regardless of what’s happening with the boys. With 2 self-employed parents, school holidays for the boys usually involve some combination of vacation care, days with friends and family, and the occasional day with either Dean or myself.
For these holidays, on the eve of Sabrina starting “big school”, she is being brought into the routine with the boys where we can. We’re deliberately trying to move her into their rhythm of life.
On Wednesday, Dean was able to move things so that he could be home with the kids. And for one of the first times, that meant on a work day for me, that Sabrina stayed home with the boys.
In the morning, as I drove off on my own, I was actually quite relieved. All I had to do was to drive to work. I had no one to wrestle into the car, no one to drop off anywhere and no lunches to pack.
But the drive home at the end of the day didn’t feel anything like the relief of the morning. Instead, I was sitting in the still and quiet of my car noticing that it stretched way back behind me. All 7 seats full of emptiness.
Ever since we began our family, 13 years ago, we have had children in daycare and I have been the primary transporter to and from daycare.
Of course, Dean has dropped the kids to daycare, or collected them at the end of the day. But in the routine of our family those days are the exceptions and not the rule.
And the opposite is true of school drop offs. I drop the boys a couple of mornings each week, and almost never collect them from school. Dean is the primary transporter of children to and from school.
In the still and lonely quiet of that car ride, I realised something. I was about to do a whole lot more of these trips. No more fun chitter chat and just plain old back chat from the rear of the car. No more words tumbling out almost too fast to be understood. No more stories of fun and games and fights and new things learned. No more demands that I should “stop right now and buy me something to eat because I’m hungry”. No more frustration with someone who absolutely refuses to leave daycare, refuses to get into the car or simply will not put their seatbelt on.
No more will my working days begin and end with the special moments that happen in the exchange at daycare.
No more will my picture of myself in my role as a lawyer and business owner be comfortably squished up against my role as a parent. Instead, I will quite simply be a full time worker who has kids. Most days I will drive to and from work (on my own), leaving my family in the midst of their own morning preparations and arrive home to a house full of people already settled into their early evening activities.
There will be no way I can tell the story any other way. My husband will be getting our children ready for school and caring for them after school.
I’m not looking forward to all those lonely car trips, knowing that someone else will now hear the stories, the laughter, the tears and the triumphs. Even if that other person is their Dad.
For right now, I can’t get past the sadness. So I won’t. I will feel it while I need to knowing that it probably the best thing I can do to allow it to move on. When the sadness is ready to leave. When I’m ready to let it go.
To make sure you’re still smiling, let me share our Santa photo this year.
I had taken all the kids out with me a couple of weeks to have a photo taken with a Santa with a heartbeat, but they all refused. Today, with a crazy blow up Santa outside the amazing Noosa Home & Hardware Store, (check them out – Elizabeth has an amazing eye for the beautiful and stylish – I could learn a lot from her) they suddenly wanted their photo with Santa. Except Bayley, who hissed at me through gritted teeth in one of his best teenage moments yet “But Mum, there are people everywhere”.
What feelings do you perhaps need to feel for just a little bit longer? Sometimes the best way out of something is to, quite simply, go through it.