Wednesday, 20 May 2009

She's got mail

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Yesterday the Littlest Latte got a letter.

"Welcome to your school reception class!" it said. Enclosed was a pack of all the information we need for September - school milk, uniforms, visits, PE kits and lunches. You'd think that this would be simple with a second child - we've been doing this for four years. We already know the ropes.

But I'm not ready. Littlest may be ready, but I'm not.

With a disabled child, everything is focused on the next milestone. It's all about going forward, moving on, through a whirlwind of appointments and targets and instructions. The Eldest Latte's first day at school was a cause for joy, for pride, and for relief. We had made it. There she was, dressed in her little uniform, looking for all the world like a schoolgirl just like all the others. Added to the fact that each morning from now on, two trained Teaching Assistants would take her through the physical therapy that had been wholly our responsibility since her diagnosis. Whether or not they were tired. Whether or not they were just p*ssed off and weary with the whole thing. Whether or not they needed to go to the supermarket.

With the Littlest Latte I thought things would be more relaxed. I had no wish to push her on past each lovely stage. But Littlest is not one for hanging about. Ever since she took her first steps, whilst carrying a tape recorder nearly as big as her body, she has been an independent force to be reckoned with.

Add into this the 18 months of her tiny life I spent struggling to function, and you have a wealth of regret, of missed time, of time wasted. Of time in bed, listening to her play with my mother downstairs, or hearing her come home from exciting days out without me. Of time spent fiddling about on the internet when it should have been spent fiddling about with playdough. Of time not playing with the Playmobil house because of futile attempts to tidy the big house. Of time leaving her to her own devices because I was too tired to do anything else.

An extra few hours a day - she already spends each morning in pre-school - shouldn't be such a big deal. But somehow it is. I have organised my career (such as it is), my relationships, myself around being a mother of young children for the past eight years, and that time seems to be coming to an end. The really, really annoying thing is that I've only just got any good at it. I'm not joking. I've not been a natural. Just in the last few months I've begun to work out what I should be doing. I've found my groove, only to realise I'm just about to be bounced out of it.

Just the thought of it makes me feel as if I am sinking.

There's a big old mope for you. Sorry to put you through that. It happens to most parents - I know there's nothing special or new about this experience. The challenge now is to pull out of this wallowing and make the most of these last months of pre-school time. Suggestions would be very welcome.


  1. I felt like that when my youngest started school. I shed so many tears and was very resentful of her being taken away from our lovely home days. She was ready though and didn't look back. That helped.

    And setting up a good selection of after school routines is good: All Treat Thursdays (buy a doughnut from Greggs on the way home rather than eat my homemade cakes). Overdue Library Books monthly trip. Lego Friday (takeaway for tea because all of us building from Lego and therefore too busy to cook).

    They still need you when they start school. Often more than they did before.

    N. xx

  2. This evening we had the open evening for my Tiny Small who starts Reception in September too. While our experience was different from yours (no disability, no debilitating illness) your post resonates with me. She is so ready to start school; her big sister is there, it is a delightful place, and her teachers are adorable. And I am trying desperately not to communicate the fact that I'm just not ready to let her go.

  3. Oh, I was in the exact same place this time last year. Number two was just (and is still) easy to spend time with. The thing I struggled with most, was the loss of any time with just him. My eldest sucks up far more than his fair share of attention and I could no longer make up for that with one-to-one little person time.

    It also took a while to get my head round not being a mother of small children.

    But he was ready for school. And I have come to accept it.

  4. I remember thinking when I sent my oldest off to kindergarten that it was just the tip of the iceberg -- the entrance to the slippery slope which would lead to her eventual departure for college.
    I was right.
    But it does take a while.
    And you'll have summers. (Won't you? Do you get summers over there?)
    And it's true that they do still need you after they start school.
    It is awful though. There's no way around it.

  5. the after school time is so special, they are so pleased to see you, my youngest won't hug me before school (not cool) and then practically flattens me with a hug when he comes out.

  6. Ahhh.... I sort of know how you feel not being a 'natural' myself... but it's taken me 13 years to get into the groove and now it really is too late for all the kiddy bits. I do spend time regretting my dismal failings as mother to a young child ... BUT ... I now have a wonderful, independent, self sufficient, confident, go-getting adventurer on my hands, so it's not all bad, and you still have bags of time for all the other stuff. xx

  7. Oh, she'll still need you alright. Oh lordy, yes. And what I've learned is that you are a natural even if you think you're not. I was very ill for the first year or so of Smallcat's life, and I look back on that time with a shudder, whilst regretting that I missed the nice things in amidst all the turmoil. And you look at those other mothers and think "why can't I be like that one there, the one with the nice legs, yes, her?!".

    In the end it doesn't matter. You're the best mum that LittleLatte could possibly ever want.

  8. First of all the anticipation of Margot going to school was much worse than the actual event.

    Second of all - what a brave woman you are - and how well you know yourself as you write so honestly.

    I was crap at the baby stuff - a good mother who loathed craft and making things and all that stuff - but I am coming into my own as the mother of school kids - well , sort of, you know - I muddle through.

    I LOVE them - you LOVE your kids - that is all that matters.


  9. It's not an ending. It's a different kind of beginning.

    In a way, school will make the time you share together with both girls even more precious. You'll be more creative as a result. And they'll have the best of both worlds... friends their own age, and a good mom who's ready and anxious to spend quality time with them.

    Or you can do what I do and sit downstairs on the computer, while mine sit upstairs on the computer. Family togetherness!

  10. Can I say in a teeny tiny voice here that there are evenings, weekends, half-terms and long summer holidays to be a Supermum and the short period from 9 - 3 Monday to Friday can be saved for being Supereverythingelse. Like Superwife, Supercareerwoman, SuperCoffee Lady.

    Don't beat yourself up about missing out on that time when she was tiny - your job right then was getting better so that you could realise your potential to be the great mum that you are now.


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