Today was the very last day that I have to go to my children’s primary school. The thrills and spills of High School await. All of those new opportunities, new people, horizons expanding for my boys. I didn’t think I would feel teary, maybe it was the contagious emotion displayed by those around me, but I certainly felt a knot.
Logistically this is a gift for the future. No more, out of catchment, arrangements with taxis and childminders and favours from friends all tied together with knotted string (and the odd occasion where I assumed they were upstairs blinding themselves in front of screens and at meal time there was one missing at the table because I had forgotten to collect them from somewhere or other). Now they can grow in independence by organising themselves and managing their own time slightly more, choosing who they spend more time with. Another step towards the self reliant, able young men I wish them to be. No longer paying for the help of others will leave some more funds in the pot for more fun things like campervan repairs or non-sensible shoes. No more taxis and that bloody awful childminder too (not sorry to no longer have to make small talk with that lady again – the list of blessing just keeps growing!).
Tomorrow they will both be at High School and the memory of friends that were so painful to leave today will be replaced by the excitement and novelty of new accomplices. So why then, was I selfishly swallowing a lump? I am quite sure it was self pity. There is a small voice, very small, at the back of my head that questioned, “Will I be here for their last day of big school”. I suppose none of us know this for sure, even without a label such as mine. The idea that I won’t be here to know them as young men makes my stomach tighten; changes my breathing. It takes a great deal of effort to think of something way more positive (very much like ears covered and screaming la la la).
I don’t rate their dad much. Evidence is there, I left! I don’t think him capable as a parent, especially if his mum or I’m not here to tell him what to do.
There are things that I’m not in control over, have no power over at all. This is true for us all. I have been searching for a rationalisation, even shed the odd 3.00 am tear over the idea that I might not be there to parent them, or even join the mischief and laughter (perhaps be the cause of some), but have come to the conclusion that this thought needs to be let go. In the same way that anything beyond our control is not worthy of fret or worry.
Then this poem came into my head:
The Indispensable Man by Saxon White Kessinger
Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you’ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.
I have always loved it, since I was a girl. Maybe we all value ourselves too highly at times. It struck me that it was absolutely right, that I am their mum but I am just part of their story. They have their own beautiful fit bodies and bright minds to do as they choose. Maybe divorce and the possible exit stage left of a parent wasn’t the childhood I planned when I was handed a perfect baby boy by the midwife, but it is a possible part of their future. We all have stuff that we blame our inadequacies on. Mine is that my parents moved so frequently chasing my dad’s career. We were frequently at a new school and starting all over again. As a consequence I can walk into a room of strangers and blend in (or stand out, wine dependent often, but frequently fun), but the end of a friendship that wears out, that leaves me floundering. My boys too, like everyone, will have strengths and weaknesses due to their experiences. At least they won’t have to soul search for an excuse to hang it all on!
I was watching something on TV about other patients in a similar situation and there was a lady there talking about her children. She was adamant that her demise would not be an excuse for her children to go off the rails. It was their choice to use or abuse their talents, to explore opportunities or to let them go. Her words struck a great chord with me. We are all just here for ourselves. However much we love and wish to protect our children, some things are just beyond our realm of influence. Just like that bucket of water, all things are transient and find their own equilibrium.
It has left me with a comfort that all any of us can do is seize the now, be proud of ourselves and spend as much time living and laughing with those that we love. It’s OK to be selective. Sometimes my own self importance will win, but then maybe it is time to come back to that bucket of water and admit that maybe it is not that they will miss me if I am not here but that I am just a little furious on occasion that I will miss them, that I won’t be part of the action. They will manage just fine without me, relying on the people they choose around them at the time.
…….I think this justifies very well the £235 I spent this afternoon on a tow bar for the van so the bikes can come away with us too. This summer is going to be what it will be, but certainly cherished