I never expected these bits to be the hard bits. Did you?
My son called me Mum the other day.
It was as he was rushing through the school gate, bag half falling off his shoulder, shirt already stained after only being worn for half-an-hour. He turned back, his face so imprinted in my brain it could be my own. He broke into a smile.
Love you Mum.
I wasn’t quite ready to be that person yet. I’ve been Mama for so long. Never Mummy for my kids, always the sweet lullaby of Mama.
And then suddenly I am not.
Mum seemed to me to be a different far-off person. A tougher, sturdier person kitted with bags of soccer gear and hockey sticks. An older me, but suddenly here I am.
It’s bittersweet isn’t it this job of ours?
Parts of being a mother you can mentally prepare yourself for. You can straighten your shoulders and steady yourself for what you are about to face. You know these are going to be the times you need to push through, that these will be the times that level you but that you will survive.
The first birthday, the first tooth, the first day at school, their first sleepover. You know it will be difficult and so you can brace yourself.
But then there are the other times. The unexpected day-to-day events that uproot you, sweeping you off your feet with the emotional impact they deliver.
These are the milestones that I wasn’t ready for, the milestones that unravel me.
1. The last day of the first year of school.
You just know that first day of school is going to be a tough one. Oh, your child will be fine; it’s us mums that suffer. But as they are taken off and cocooned by those caring, nurturing, gentle kindergarten teachers deep down you know they are okay. They are being watched over.
It’s the last day that threw me. They day when you look at those suddenly-grown children and remember the too-long dresses on the first day and the shy smiles and you see how much they’ve grown, and how they aren’t the little ones anymore.
2. When they don’t want you to come.
Ever since he was a baby my middle child has clung to me in a way that is both delightful and slightly irritating all at the same time. He always wanted me there, me to be right next to him. There were tears at soccer and swimming. There were times at playdates I would have preferred to be almost anywhere else but he wanted me to stay.