George turned six last month. Six whole years of winging it! Ages are funny things- I didn’t have any sort of sentimental attachment to 6 but 5 really bothered me- I think I had an association with 5 being the difference between a baby and a grown up child! Ridiculous really- it’s not like he hit five and I suddenly packed his bags, sent him up the chimney clutching a brush and told him the time had come for him to fend for himself! But I definitely had sad ‘my baby is no longer a baby mummy pangs’ last year!
So six came and went with no drama on my part, but all of a sudden I’m noticing changes in my biggest boy that mean I definitely can’t deny that he’s not my baby any more;
He still tells me to wave through the window when I drop him off at school but when I do, the nervous smile and wave that used to greet me are gone; I’m met instead by the sight of the back of his head, engrossed in learning or conversation with his friends. In the time it’s taken me to get back on to the playground, he’s forgotten me!
He is no longer happy for me to drag him into the ladies loo when we’re out and about… he goes on his own into the men’s and looks so grown up!
When I’m flicking through the Iplayer for him, I’m no longer navigating the CBeebies page; He’s bypassed CBBC altogether and wants Match of the Day! (Although I do get a fix of the lovely Mr Linekar so it’s win win really!)
He goes skipping off to places quite happily without me! The shy and sensitive little soul that I packed off to school at the beginning of last year has been replaced with a social butterfly who will go anywhere with anyone. Last night he went on his first sleepover at his friend from schools house! Went dashing through the door with barely a backwards glance (until Ted kicked off that he was leaving so he came running back to give him a love!)
I no longer have to stand outside for hours watching him bomb backwards and forwards on his scooter- ‘Watch this Mummy!’ has been replaced by him going off into the gardens of his friends and building dens, punctuated only when he comes home for food!
A trip to the trampoline park with his friend in the holiday was a totally different experience! Normally I’m on there with them (clenching- always clenching!) but this time I was redundant- banished to the cafe balcony to observe them from afar!
And last week, in front of his friend, he referred to me as his ‘Mum’ and not mummy!
The thing is, I’m not sure I’m ready to be a ‘mum’! I’m still only just getting the hang of being a mummy! The two feel like very different roles and I’m entirely conflicted! I hated standing on the bloody culdesac for hours at a time in the freezing cold, watching the exact same scooter trick 25 thousand times in a row! But now he doesn’t want me to, I want him to want me to! I got to point where I had watched that many episodes of Paw Patrol I felt I had more of a relationship with Ryder than most of my family or close friends; but a little bit of me now would love him to want to snuggle up on the sofa to watch another episode of those bloody annoying dogs! All the things he now wants to do for himself give me hope that at some point in the near future I won’t be run ragged fetching stuff and getting stuff and wiping stuff and negotiating stuff but then part of me worries that if they don’t ‘need’ me, will they still ‘want’ me! It’s the age old conundrum- the grass isn’t always greener! I feel like we’ve spent certain parts of the last few years wishing time away or ‘getting through’ stages but now we’re through the other side of the baby and toddler phase and this awesome little boy is flourishing into an even awesome-er bigger boy, I want to go back!
Part of me really looks forward to being the parent of older children; the vast majority of my teaching career has been with Y6 children and I have always loved working with kids at the older end of primary school where you can have some banter and jokes along the way. I look forward to being able to do more grown up activities and to not feel like I have to pack half the house in the back of the car when we go anywhere and to knowing that when they go to bed, I have a cast iron guarantee that I won’t have to get back up again until the morning!
But part of me is scared! Scared of moody, smelly teenagers and monosyllabic grunting and bedroom doors being slammed in my face! Scared that I seem to have to share his time so much more now- there are days where I hardly see him due to his jam packed social calendar! Scared that I’ll close my eyes and suddenly they’ll be all grown up; 6 years has whizzed by in the blink of an eye! I feel like I may do one blink more and find them suddenly living in homes of their own, married with kids of their own and a Volvo on the drive!
The draw of the freedom that certain elements of grown up children bring is in balance with the fear of losing the relationships and phase that we now have. I fear losing the ‘magic’ of childhood! I’m terrified of Christmas losing its sparkle or the innocence of early childhood being replaced with a knowing smirk! George told me he knew what swear words were the other day, a tiny step towards adulthood and innocence that we can never get back!
So while I’m looking forward to watching our caterpillars flourish into butterflies, I’m trying to drink in as much of this era as I can (and I’m working on a big giant pause button that I can fit to them if all else fails!)