Sunday 19 March 2023
Mother’s day 2023, my card tells me that I ‘deserve to have the best day!‘ … and I do!
Why so great? Well for one, my eldest child pops home for the weekend. But for two, she takes me out for lunch! Yes, let me say that one again, very slowly; she takes me out. She books the table. She invites the guests. She organises the transport. She evens pays. I don’t have to do anything! Great restaurant, great company; it’s a treat I shall cherish.
Could this be, I ponder, the moment when I pass on the baton of ‘chief organiser and sorter-outer’ to the next generation? Probably not, but for today at least it is amazing, because I can tell you this. The child-rearing journey is one relentless marathon. But, those of you with of small infants, do not despair! Just when you think you cannot take anymore and have hit your parental wall, take heart. Around every corner, come small life-saving moments to savour. After two decades of muddling through motherhood, here are mine
My first game changer is cow’s milk, which arrives at the age of 12 months. It is ‘farewell’ to battling with breastfeeding and a grateful ‘goodbye’ to prepping the cursed formula bottles each evening; sterilising, scooping, measuring and mixing through eyes so weary they are propped open with matchsticks. The calendar shows that 1 year and passed and overnight, you are simply allowed to open the fridge and pour some milk into a beaker. Goodness gracious, it feels like a wondrous miracle!
Next for me; the end of nappies. I’m not going to lie, the potty training months are a tense time, but oh so worth it! As your toddler finally masters the art of using the loo, it is off to the tip for that dreadful device know as the ‘changing bag’! Once again, you step out with a swing in your step, no longer weighed down with nappies and wipes and bags and changes of clothes and ….oh, it is glorious. How did you not appreciate this simple pleasure before? And, from my viewpoint, even better is to come.
Probably one of my favourite moments of all. You feed and drag your child up to the magical mark of 135 cm and the car seat can go! It’s utterly liberating. One day, your life is a drudge of lifting and securing offspring’s arms and legs into complex arrays of straps and fasteners. The next you are just breezily shouting ‘time to go kids!‘, opening the car door and watching them climb in and sort themselves out. On the first few occasions, you’ll just stand there open mouthed with your car keys thinking, ‘Is that it, can I just set off?’ And ‘Hallelujah’ yes you can! A magnificent moment indeed.
High school also occurs around this time, bringing with it a surge in offspring independence. This one is a little double edged, but I shall start with the positives. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the humble bus pass. Your children now get themselves to school. It is beyond fantastic. I’m a working mum and as I waved my youngest child off on the 472 in his new school blazer, my working life was about to transform. No longer tied to breakfast club opening times and after school club hours, I could just set off when it suited me. No longer shouting at kids to ‘get through the bathroom’, ‘get dressed’ and ‘get in the car‘, I could drive calmly to and from school thinking about the day ahead. I was consistently on time for the management meeting for the first time in 7 years, no longer stressed out about late pick-up fees, if I was caught in traffic at the end of the day. I thanked my lucky stars, felt incredulous at how much easier life seemed to be once more and marvelled at how many more hours there were in each day.
As a cautionary note however, I did warn that the teenage years also bring their disadvantages in terms of your blossoming freedoms, and here they are. As your children advance through school and sixth-form, their social lives also take off, so, unless you have the pockets to keep your local Uber company in business, do be prepared for your duties as late night taxi service! I am currently in the midst of this one. Small boy and his considerable circle of friends are a very sociable lot and most weeks bring an enviable offering of outings, parties and general merrymaking for them. For me, alas, it means too many evening when the cherished glass of red has to be replaced by a consolation cup of tea. I suppose eventually they’ll all learn to drive and get cars!
Looking back, I cannot actually believe I made it to this stage, particularly as I did most of it on my own. Well, to be fair that’s not quite true, for 7 years I did have my ‘pretty nice guy’ to keep me sane! He may never have helped out much with the kids but he did remind me that parenting was not my only role in life. You’ll find, young mothers in particular, that people stop asking ‘how are you?’ and replace it with ‘how are the kids?’. It’s okay to a point but you can start to feel a bit invisible so I am very thankful that I did have an adult companion for many great adventures and crazy capers, during the toughest of the child-raising years! It definitely stopped me going under.
So, add a few dates nights into your survival notes too! But I’m now dreaming of the day when all my trio can drive me around for a change so I’ll end my post there. I’m off to sign Small boy up for his provisional licence….