Two weeks tomorrow our beautiful, magnificently wilful daughter starts school. The last two weeks passed, I have been dutifully running through supermarkets and high street chains in the search of navy blue leggings, shoes that fit H-plus width, dresses that don’t itch….
I see ahead of me two full and hectic weeks before D-day. We are away the week before they start, returning home the night before, and the pressure I have experienced to get everything prepared for the day of dread, I have found utterly overwhelming. This afternoon I begrudgingly ironed labels onto her and our son’s new uniforms, whilst a bevy of thoughts and dawnings, prompted from a dream I had had last night, ran through my sleepy mind.
The dream went thus;
It was first day. I was trying to get the kids ready. We were in our new house that, in my dream, overlooked the school. Our son was already dressed, our daughter still in her pyjamas. I was frantically searching for the new uniform. I found one bag with some items in that were all soaking wet. The other bag, which I knew had the bits we needed in, I couldn’t find. The clock struck passed 9 O’clock. I could see all the other kids going inside. I started to panic, we were late and I still couldn’t locate her clothes.
When I woke I realised the school I saw beside our house wasn’t the school where our son goes and our daughter will soon be attending. It was in fact my old primary school. Ah ha, I thought to myself and, with this seemingly stunning revelation, today I have been observing a whole world of worry arise;
I remember, in my first year of school, lining up in the playground, waiting to go into class and literally dragging my shoes across the tarmac as we were summoned in.
I remember my mother and teacher discussing this.
I remember the unease and self-consciousness I felt knowing my dread was being spoken about.
I remember feeling powerless.
I remember longing for my dad, who had not long gone off to work in the Middle East.
I remember trying to be brave. Trying to put on a face that didn’t equate to how I was feeling inside.
Then arose memories of three years ago when our son started school. Within that week my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Within two months my sister-in-law died. Within six months I felt painfully disconnected to our son as, with inherent problems in the school and his class in particular, his first year in reception was a very rough one. Within nine months I felt fear as my mother’s cancer was diagnosed as terminal. Within twelve months both my mother and grandmother were dead. Within two years, my father-in-law too.
The memories kept stirring as I ironed these bloody labels on.
Literally it is only within the last six months or so that I’m finding a little more space within to actually meet the whirlwind of these past three years. Literally between our son starting and now our daughter, I only just feel I’m beginning to come up for air. And with this glorious air, I am now beginning to touch base with my own feelings of when I started school myself. Possibly a window of a bevy of fear and loss had arisen with our son when he began his journey. I don’t know. If it did, I missed it, or at least was distracted. But now I recognise an opportunity, whilst our daughter begins hers, which I’m anticipating will be bumpy, to sit and listen inwardly to a whole bag of unheard feelings that I had at the ripe young age of four.
So, whilst dear souls warn me it’ll be hard when your ‘baby’ starts school and I internally poo-poo it thinking, I’ve met our sweet girl well these last four and a half years, I have no regrets, we’re both in our ways ready, this blessing of a dream shines forth and reminds me that the story I tell myself is possibly not the whole picture. And as I lie in the bath, I feel hands from my belly calling our daughter back into my womb, and I realise how I’m really not quite as ready as I would like to have imagined.
There are no answers but I know this;
Between now and two weeks tomorrow I shall love-in to my old hurts and sorrows. Our daughter may still scream she doesn’t want to go and kick and push and possibly hide her uniform, telling me in her way she’s not ready either, but if she does I will be able to meet her with a compassion that will come with a freshness of now and less of me tangled of long ago as I untwine these age old fears.
And, you never know, maybe I’ll start celebrating a navy blue school uniform!
Image: Source unknown ~ frustratingly, as I love it and feels very much like our daughter staring piercingly at me.