This afternoon, my littlest had her stay and play session at big school.  She skipped in happily and trotted out beaming.  It helps that she is more than used to the school itself as her three siblings are all there.  She knows the teachers and the setting.  In terms of learning and developing, she’s definitely ready to move onto the next phase of her learning journey.  She’s ready, but am I?

Hell yeah.  You bet I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I love our Pre-School.  It’s touted as ‘A Wonderful Place to Grow’ and my four children have started there as little seeds and left as buds just waiting to blossom.  It really does live up to its tagline. I think the staff are ace and the whole ethos of the place is just lovely.  But now, having had back-to-back kids there for the last 8 years, I’m ready to close this chapter of the loveliest of books.  These years have been filled with many milestones – multiple pregnancies, hour upon hour of breastfeeding, endless laundry loads of potty-training poop pants, tears, tantrums and occasional triumphs.  They have all been my norm and I haven’t wanted it any other way (much). I’ve made some really lovely friends during these early years and we’ve shared some good times and some not-so good ones.

But now I’m tired.  Really tired.  Not the abject, sleep-deprived kind of exhaustion that comes with babies and toddlers  This is a tiredness that is almost a recognition that I’ve spent ten years chasing children with very little time for myself.  I’m not quite ready to literally push #4 through the school gates and make a run for the hills, but some headspace, mental clarity and time without interruption will be most welcomed.  Will I know what to do with myself?  Oh yes.  I’ll be doing all the things I haven’t done in the past decade.  Or at least trying to finish the hundreds of things I’ve started during that time.  The prohibitive cost of childcare for four children has meant I never made it back to the pre-children workplace.  Motherhood has been a fulltime job and some.  However, Carys starting school feels as though I’m able to re-write my job description and I’m looking forward to a change in my role.

The impending end of an era – one that I’ve never experienced before – has made me stop and think.  Made me think about being present and enjoying the children when the going’s good.  I’m philosophical about the children growing up.  Each new step and phase is a sign that we’ve successfully navigated our way through the previous one.  We’re still standing and we’re still smiling, so it can’t have all gone too wrong.  I’m not sad that my baby is starting school.  It’s actually rather exciting.

The other day we went to the supermarket.  As her little hand curled around mine, we headed to the pet shop next door, her usual treat for being a good girl.  I suddenly found I had a lump in my throat.  This will all come to an end soon.  She won’t be around to come to the supermarket with me during the day, let alone sit in the trolley or say hello to Misty and her rabbity friends.  The end of eras that I have encountered thus far with #4 have been liberating.  No more nappies, no more boob-tugging, no more buggies (which was liberating after the initial adjustment to daytrip pack horse), but no more children at home?  I’ve realised Carys is my little pal and I’m going to miss her,  Admittedly, having her at home has been quite easy.  She very self-contained and plays happily for hours on her own, no doubt grateful for the snippets of quiet time in amongst the usual chaos.  The comparative luxury of having one child at home rather than four is one that we both have relished.  But now the house is going to be empty for more than six hours a day, five days a week.  Maybe the house stands half a chance of getting tidied and staying tidy.  My week days will be delineated by just the one school run (happy days!) and I’ll hopefully have the chance to recharge my poor, frazzled brain.  So for the next couple of weeks, I’ll try and concentrate on holding that little hand and being mindful instead of mindless…at least until the school pick up.