5 November 2013

When They're All You've Got.

Yesterday marked the end of an era, that by which eight and a half years of being a full time, stay at home mum to two young boys has come to a close.  The littlest started full time school.

Initially, we hoped that this would occur last September, however it wasn't possible to admit him into the same one as his brother, so much prevaricating has occurred instead - we are out of its catchment area.

The place offered to him nearby presented a logistical scenario that Houdini himself wouldn't manage so he stayed at his local, lovely and wonderful Montessori nursery where he would get plenty of individual, child led attention and continue to thrive. 

There was nothing wrong with this - it's never been anything shorter than excellent.  The teaching and nurturing are second to none and I was perfectly happy with the decision to keep him on there until a space either came up or something else workable could be achieved.

But all his friends had left.  He was the big boy - a perfect opportunity for him to not be the littlest, as he is in the family - and discovering his gentle consideration for those much younger than him has been a worthwhile joy for us all, but watching him with them one day made me realise:

He was ready to move on.

Would I ever be?  Did I want to keep him little for ever?  Would he ever let me, anyhow?

No, no and no, but you can't blame a woman for trying when they're virtually all you've got, can you?

Having kicked out his father when six months pregnant with him, and his brother was just four, younger than he is now, it's been the team of the three of us since, and it has been hard.  How I survived those early days with a young baby and child alone, Heaven only knows.  Sometimes it was simply too scary to go to sleep, afraid of the frequent disturbances which would inevitably come, knowing that morning and the eldest's school run would arrive before I could possibly believe it, that when I cleaned my teeth it would feel like I had only just done them and hadn't actually been to bed, yet the day would begin.

I would shake with fatigue, but plaster on a brave face - eye make up and lippy - and go out into the world.  Occasionally he'd still be in his babygrow, but I didn't care.  He was warm and loved and we'd take the second breakfast that he still wants out with us.


It was difficult to face going straight home. We always went for a cuppa somewhere - sometimes with others, sometimes just us and he has always been fantastic company - funny and so lively he occasionally alienated other mothers, but I wouldn't change a thing - apart from when the eldest had to be rushed to the Eye hospital because of it and perhaps when he nearly killed me with a badminton racquet recently - but those accidents are probably down to me being too soft on him because he's such a charmer.


Ever the Comedian!
His first morning, he entered his classroom, jumping like a rabbit, making all his new peers laugh. He has been excited about this new start since we decided on it just a couple of weeks ago.  And that's it.  It's over.  We made it.

This is in no small part due to a few fine girlfriends who have stepped in, when circumstances or illness - the boys' or mine - have finally broken me and you all know who you are, thank you ladies.  We're lucky to have you.

As bereft as it'll make me to no longer be lunching with Batman or playing playdough with Iron Man and not to be being regularly wrestled by a mini John Cena to boot, because the little man who insisted on wearing superhero suits now embraces his school uniform equally enthusiastically (Phew!), there is an enormous sense of pride that permeates our home right now.

But just as I was managing to hold it all together, accomplishing the letting go, being less clingy and feeling too frightened to, this was played on the radio and it all came undone.  

Although it was written for a girl, inspired by the seven year old daughter of Abba's Bjorn and Agnetha, for one of their Albums, it is featured in the film Mamma Mia and the sentiments, sung so movingly by Meryl Streep, truly say it all.  If you have children and they're growing up a tad too quickly for your liking, you might join me in bawling at this.

Go on, show me some solidarity!  'School bag in hand....' she sings.... *Passes tissues.*  




85 comments:

  1. Oh sweetheart - you have done so well getting this far and a day of sobbing at Abba is most definitely allowed x - time for the next step on your journey and getting to drink your cup of coffee while it's still warm during the day. xxx

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    1. Oh thank you :) He was so happy he made it easy for me to leave. Am bereft but relieved too and you're right about everything, as always xx

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  2. Beautiful post and love the song choice!!x

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    1. Thank you :) I know you get it, sister!

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  3. I love that song, very big step you have just taken... onwards and upwards

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    1. So glad - it's so beautiful and yes, but it is time and thank you :)

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  4. Your post has put tears in my eyes and I am trying to summon up the courage to watch/listen to it xxx

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    1. I'm so sorry - and let me know when you have xx

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  5. Imagine you feel like this NOW, and yet it is splashed across the papers today that they want to start compulsory education from the age of TWO. It makes me very very very sad (and cross). Shall we just give them a PAYE number and give them away right there in the maternity ward, so they can begin life immediately as an automaton to "the man" xx

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    1. Didn't know about this - will check it out x

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    2. OOh I saw something about this on Twitter yesterday, it made me so sad.

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  6. I cannot begin to imagine your strength, going it alone with a baby and a pre-schooler. You are doing a fantastic job, and I'm so glad you've got girlfriends to support you. I too was bereft in August when youngest started school. I thought that was when I'd get my life back - but I realised my two little boys ARE my life. I'm just filling in the time each day until I get to be with them again. But you deserve that time to yourself, and it will get easier. And by the looks of your gorgeous little man, he's very happy where he is xxxx

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  7. So proud to call you my friend, such a lovely post. I knew ironman would have a fab time dressed as a school boy! I am unable to listen to that song, cried all the way through it at the cinema and always fast forward or leave the room when its on. You have done an amazing job raising 2 lovely,fun boys on your own. time to give yourself a little time off and enjoy that large ginger and almond latte with your name on it xxx

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    1. Thank you Sarah - am proud to call you a (lifesaving) one too! I never thought of him that way round, but you've got him perfectly - Ironman dressed as a schoolboy - he would love that xx

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    2. And I have never had a ginger and almond latte but if my name's on one somewhere, I'd be delighted to try one, thank you! (Hazelnut, otherwise, ta xx.)

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  8. ah, lovely post Anya, milestones can be really hard on us mummy's. Love A's energy, TC has it in bucketloads & people do remark on it, they will grow up all too soon to corrall them too early! You know if you ever need a hand with anything you can call xx ps not listening to the song, know it will make me cry :)

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    1. Thank you for that Carina and for the very kind offer - their energy at our age is exhausting but keeps us young. I know you've listened to the song now and had to re-do your make up - glad it hit the spot, but sorry, if you know what I mean! x

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  9. Our babies starting school is such a tough day! But be proud of what an awesome job you have done and bathe in the light he shines on the world! have a hug from me x x x x

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    1. That's it Mary - he feels like my baby still and I can't accept he isn't! Thank you for such lovely words - he certainly is a shining light - hug and solidarity graciously accepted, thank you :)

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  10. Aw, beautiful post and congratulations on making it to this point, I can only imagine what it takes to bring up two young boys single-handedly. I think it was good that a song came on just at the right time for you to let it all out. Hopefully this signifies a wonderful new chapter for all three of you x

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    1. Thank you Luci and yes, that song seemed sweetly timed - a new chapter, indeed. :)

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  11. I've been there and done that - and still they grow and still I worry about them all the time! I reflected on time passing in my blog this morning:

    http://theothersideofparis.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/life-and-things-and-time-passing/

    PS Lovely song.

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    1. Loved those poems on your blog today, thank you. It's like the blink of an eye - never long enough that they drive you mad for! And, yes, that song - was new to me :)

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  12. How lucky those boys are to have you as their Mum. You made it! All a walk in park from here on in :)

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    1. That's a sweet thing to say Kate, thank you. Can't be sure they'd agree, mind you! We made it! One can hope..... x

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  13. My favourite song too. I have mixed feelings about DD growing up sop fast. I can barely remember her being a baby and I know she will be grown and away in the blink of an eye - this does make me sad. On the other hand, as an older mother, I'm so relieved every time another stepping stone towards her being more independent has been crossed.

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    1. I didn't know the song - it took my breath away, coming at such a poignant time. I completely understand the mixed feelings - the mixture of grief and relief! x

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  14. So beautifully written as always. I will go through this next year when my youngest goes to school and it is an end of an era but also the start of a new one. You will have more time and maybe you can focus more on you and what you want to do.

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    1. You're so kind, thank you! It's so frustrating when they are here and then there's such a sense of loss when they're gone, but you are right, it is the start of a new era :)

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  15. Gosh, this made me cry. I am struggling with my kids growing up, and so fast. I keep looking at my 6.5 year old and 3.5 year old and remembering the day I brought them home from the hospital. I think it's hard to watch them grow and not need you so much. I am so glad for you, that he is loving big school and settling so well, you have done a great job!

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    1. I am sorry! Glad that you understand though - it is hard, but I do appreciate things being easier, I have to admit :)

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  16. Such a beautifully written post - you capture the bittersweet nature of this milestone so eloquently.
    Bask in the glory of what you have achieved - a confident, happy boy raring to get to school each day - and feel happy. You've done an amazing job x

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    1. That is very kind of you thank you - you wrote beautifully about your first going and thank you, as well, for such a lovely suggestion - to celebrate him raring to get in. I am happy, but I miss him already :) x

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  17. I remember when my son started grade one, meaning all day school for him, he hated it. For the entire year, each morning he held onto my leg. I would have to pry him off, and send him in to school. It broke my heart. He is now in his second year of university, very far away, and I am the one, wanted to hold on to his leg.

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    1. Oh Catherine! You put that so well - it breaks my heart reading it. I shall be glad he is only up the road really and resist all temptation to cling onto him for now then!

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I must have accidentally deleted this but got chance to read it and it said something like Gorgeous post darling, (she always calls me darling!), read it with a tear in her eye, that I am amazing (natch! ;) ) and that it heralds a new start that might include more sleep, thank you Vicki - so sorry about that xx

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  19. Oh this scene from Mama Mia and that song makes me cry too! :) I'm at awe at single mums - hats off to you guys!

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    1. It's so brilliantly played - it's hard not to cry at it! Thank you :)

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  20. What an absolutely love post Anya. My littlest starts school next September and will only just be 4. I could try now thinking about it.

    I'm so glad the transition to school has been easy for your littlest so far. Enjoy the quiet and make he most of those afterschool afternoons. xxx

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    1. Thank you Emma. I know exactly how you feel and it being easy for him has made things easier for me. It is eerily quiet but I confess to loving it a bit and being more ready for the mayhem they both make after school :)

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  21. I can so relate to this Anya, I still feel like this about Ozzy, and he started school two months ago now. I think for me most of my sadness came from the silence after I dropped him off - my mini companion had gone and our whole 'routine' drastically changed. I still feel really sad, it's more than Ozzy starting school, it's symbolising the whole 'end of an era' for me, being a full-time mother is really all I have ever done, it feels odd to be suddenly met with 'free-time' xx

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    1. I knew you would understand.... and as much as I love the silence at home, it's sad too, but at least they come home :). I hope you enjoy your 'free-time' xx

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  22. This is such a big step, isn't it? Totally heart breaking to have to let go of the kids and hand them over to the school system :-(

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  23. I loved this post Anya, even if it did make me cry! You should be very proud of yourself and your lovely boys! :) x

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  24. I can't listen to that song without bawling like a baby. Well done you for getting through it. The milestones keep coming, don't they, although we wish they wouldn't come quite so quickly.

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    1. I'm the same Polly! Thank you and yes they do, much too quickly xx

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  25. Oh what a beautiful post, and yes, it does go all too quickly, and I think this is most keenly felt with our youngest ones, as we know this is our last time of doing it. Welcome all of you to the next chapter, it will be just as amazing as the last one xx

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    1. Thank you and yes, he's my baby and it's very keen indeed, but a new chapter, as you say. Onwards and upwards :)

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  26. What a great post, and what a lovely mum you are. My littlest won't start full time school til 2015, and I am so very aware that that is creeping up on me faster than I'd like xx

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    1. Why thank you :) It's so much faster with the second :( xx

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  27. Beautiful post Anya, and to make you feel better my friend admitted she played this exact same song and cried the night before we both waved our kids off in Sept. Congrats on a huge milestone x

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    1. Thank you - that's proper solidarity, that is! *sobs again* X

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  28. Such a beautiful heart-felt post, Anya. I'm also sobbing along to Abba now. I love that song x

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  29. My daughter loves mamma Mia so I get the opportunity to cry at this every time. I'm starting to cry now. IN THE OFFICE ! Arghh. Lovely post btw. Xx

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    1. Oh brilliant and oh no! Sorry, again.... but thank you :) xx

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  30. Loved that song ... the Meryl Streep character says to her 'daughter' and her friend in the film something like "STOP GROWING!" in a futile attempt to arrest the tide of time. I think that all the time now. Good luck to your little boy and may you continue to enjoy your sons in different ways as they grow.

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    1. Thank you. I saw the film a few years ago and don't remember that song registering at all! Must have still been in the sleep deprived haze - and I don't remember her saying that line either so must re-watch it when I dare to. Thank you for your good wishes too :)

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  31. Aww lovely. I know exactly how you feel, it's a curious mix of pride and grief.

    You should feel very proud of all you've done x

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    1. Thank you for understanding and those kind words :) x

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  32. Such a beautiful and moving post Anya - I dread the time when my twins reach that point. Letting go of such an important little person in your life and watching them grow, must be so hard.

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    1. Thank you - and have a doubly whammy - ouch! x

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  33. I am sure i am not the first one that said this...your post and the song put tear to my eyes...And then Kara that is almost 5 years old came over while i was watching the song....and asked me to put it on from the beginning. "Mummy she sings so beautifully" and she lay her head on my lap. It was nice to have her close. She is so close to becoming more and more an individual...
    I remember watching this movie before i had Kara. Back then it didn't bring so much emotion...

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  34. Oh my, you've made me remember September all over again....passes tissues. Beautiful post!

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    1. So sorry, but thank you for the solidarity. xx

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  35. Well done to you firstly. I was a single parent until my oldest was 5 and he was an only child and it was dam hard work so I hope you are mighty proud of what the 3 of you have achieved together. And that he was so ready to go to school - you've done that.
    But yes I can very much relate to this - my oldest has just got his first job, my 2nd son about to move to secondary, my 3rd is just amazing, and my 4th just started school. It is all new adventures and my time without them makes the time with them all the more special (and am SOOOO looking forward to Christmas with them). x

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    1. Thank you for that Joy and I sincerely hope you enjoy your most special Christmas yet with them - how can it not be? xx

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  36. What a tough time you've survived. I'm always thrilled when my eldest moves onto the next stage because it's Progress and saddened when my youngest does because he's my baby. But having both in school and daytime liberty is a joy, my dear, and you will get used to it wonderfully fast.

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    1. I do feel the need to recover Anna, thank you and I do feel a liberations of sorts, together with the sadness :)

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  37. Such a post written from the heart! Sending hugs. xx

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  38. I loved watching Mamma Mia, and this is such a heart wrenching song. I'm not surprised you cried. You have coped with so much from the birth of the first to the youngest's first day at school. You are a very strong, brave lady... what a wonderful mother you are to those boys. I hope you are also feeling very proud of yourself. Those lovely boys are an absolute credit to you. So proud to know you and have you in my life. You are a lovely, lovely friend (although I've been very quiet of late). XXX

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    1. Don't start me off again...! Thank you for everything my lovely friend XXX

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  39. Anya, just out of interest.
    You said 'eight and a half years of being a full time, stay at home single mum to two young boys has come to a close'

    Do you count the time between your boys when your husband was still there as single?

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    1. Actually, no. I meant eight and a half years of being a full time mum. I'd originally written something about it being mostly single because my husband always worked away all week before we finally technically separated, plus I'd had a live in boyfriend for eighteen months a while afterwards but still always felt like a single mum - and decided to lose all that because it was really irrelevant to the point of the post. I obviously missed the 'single' bit by accident when going over it, perhaps through the tears of that video! I apologise and have removed it. I don't mind you asking but it would be nice if this discussion did not remain anonymous.

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    2. Sorry Anya,
      I don't have a Google Live Account or a blog, to choose from the drop down menu.

      But it is always nice to 'chat' with you, I'll try to be a little less anonymous in the future.

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  40. Oh I'm forever telling my children to stop growing up- they just laugh at me and I have to go with it :)

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  41. You have done a super job, and now I am sobbing at meryl! x x

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    1. That's so kind, thank you. Stop. You'll start me off again....

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