Tears welled in my eyes as I read the school newsletter which had Term 3, 2017 calendar dates. Although I had been anticipating this event for a long time, it hit me. This is my last term of being a “school parent”.
I had wanted to be a Mum and have children since I played with dolls as a toddler. Whenever I did a test to find out my passion in life, it was to be a Mum. Now this role is changing.
I know of other parents who were elated, relieved and rejoicing that school parenting days were over. Whilst I was proud and excited, the end of the last day of school for my younger child was bittersweet. I felt fragile, teary and wiped out − a washing machine of emotions − and I was certainly not alone in feeling this. Phone calls and dinner with my husband and other parents assisted us all in defraying the ‘lost’ feeling. There was finality, the end of an era, and a gap to fill.
If I had my time again I would enjoy more and stress less. As Gemma Sisia, founder of the School of St Jude’s Tanzania, whom I greatly admire, says when things are challenging − “this too shall pass…”. Whatever stage your child is, whatever concerns you have, you’ll get through. There will be challenging days in the journey of school parenting − for those in the thick of homework, uniforms, school lunches, excursions, parent meetings – but enjoy and cherish these moments as “they too shall pass”.
It is different for everyone, but my message is this – appreciate your children where they are, as time goes so quickly. If times are tough for you right now – believe and trust. We all have rough dips in our roller coaster of life. When we reflect on where we were five years ago, we recognise that things change in the blink of an eye. If you are at a turning point in your life right now, or in a rut, know there is a way forward. There is no guide book, no magic answers as to the best way to raise children but there are always people to reach out and assist and if you don’t find answers, keep searching.
Maybe you’re a home schooling parent, a grandparent starting the school journey again through your grandchildren, a foster parent or a step-parent. Wherever you are – enjoy the moment – “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Celebrate the jubilations and ride the waves. May we have peace in our hearts, knowing that our children’s journey is the one they are meant to be taking, to learn the life lessons they need to learn.
I attended a parent education course when my children were toddlers and the psychologist giving the talk asked, “What do you want for your children?” The audience chatted to each other and then replied “be happy”, “be kind”, “not take drugs” and so on. He replied “Yes, but what you really want is for them to be independent at 18.” That stayed in my head. I was certainly not independent at 18.
I believe guiding one’s children to be independent is truly a gift to them. Have I succeeded perfectly? No, but together with the village of family, friends, neighbours, church, sport and drama groups and school educators, we have raised two great citizens.
I recall when my children were toddlers and I was pushing the swing at the local park for what felt like a gazillion times and wishing I could sit on the park bench in peace and read a book. How quickly that phase of my children’s lives passed, as did so many precious, treasured moments of holding them as newborns, watching them take their first steps, jumping in puddles, tea parties under the trampoline, pre-school, reading bedtime stories, birthday parties, Book Week and sports carnival dress-ups, driving them to playdates and after school activities.
I always told my two daughters, “You’re going to be beautiful teenagers.” They are great people and I have since added, “and beautiful beyond teenage years”.
Thank you both for being two of my greatest teachers.
We love you, you are precious, we cherish you and may you stretch your wings and fly, knowing Dad and I are always, always there for you.
There are many momentous milestones in the life of a parent – surviving the first year wondering if the sleepless nights will ever end, leaving pre-school to start school, and leaving primary school to start high school. Change is inevitable and change can be exciting.
There is a time for every season. I am sad but there is also freedom without the ties of school − a wonderful new chapter is beginning – exciting times ahead!