I am in a state of emotional confusion. That is, I have no idea what emotion it is that I am experiencing right now. Is it joy? Relief? Devastation? A combination of all three?
Which one makes me the better parent?
Today is Bridie’s first day of transition. She has made the…transition(well duh) into big school, and is officially one of the big kids now. Ok she is still the youngest in the school on the days when pre school is not there, but as far as she is concerned that point is moot. She can go on the big play ground now.
She has been looking forward to this moment since part way through the last term of last year. Academically, I have had my concerns. She can write her name but it’s only legible if you know what she’s writing, and her counting is creative to say the least. She does ok until about thirteen, then the numbers start getting swapped around, and she has a tendency to add in eleventeen every time she gets stuck. And it doesn’t matter how many times I tell her eleventeen is not a number, she still says it. She thinks she knows it all.
Over the holidays we seemed to have a bit of a breakthrough. She started showing an interest in learning, rather than just the home corner. After one afternoon of copying and writing peoples names she remarked to my mother in law, “Nanna, I am just doing so much learning on my holiday! Your teaching me all this stuff and mum is teaching me all this stuff, and when I get to transition I can tell Mrs Hart that I don’t need to learn anything because I already know it!” Nanna Margot did her best to convince that she would always be learning but Bridie was certain she already knew everything she would never need to know.
I know a few adults like that.
I am one myself occasionally.
Anyway, I was feeling slightly apprehensive about this first day. You see when Taylah started transition everything was new and exciting. Now it’s just sad. My little girl is growing up too quickly, and school just seems to accelerate that process.
We have seen a lot of change in her over the holidays. The little girl that at one point would cry if anyone apart from mum was holding her, has become a lot more independent. She is not scared to try swimming from one side of the pool to the other any more, and on holidays she even tried riding a sea biscuit (we fell out), and a jet ski. Three months ago she would have watched from the beach. She wants to write and read, and do jobs. She asked me to cut her hair short. She sees the world in black and white and is sometimes logical to the point of coldness. And this morning I was the first parent to leave, because she said goodbye and even though she was shy and unsure, her brave little face showed determination to face the fear and be a big transition girl all on her own.
And so I sit here unsure of what I am feeling. Joy that the clingy toddler is turning into a secure little girl? Relief that I only have two kids at home again? Or devastation that the last four and a half years have flown by far too quickly, and I’m suddenly not as necessary as I used to be?
And maybe I feel a little bit like a failure too? Whilst most parents are trying to raise independent children, I am trying to raise interdependent ones. Children that can stand in their own two feet, but also look to the family to help them get by. Is Bridie’s independence in the class room a result of an independent child who relies too heavily on herself? Or a secure child that can stand on her feet because she has the support of a loving family? Or is it just personality? On our way home driving from South Australia she said on more than one occasion that she didn’t ‘t want to go home, but instead wanted to go and see knew places. It makes me think that that is the the way God has made her. She is going to be a ‘brave explorer’ as Colin Buchanan would put it.
However the way I have been feeling the past few days, I am prone to believing that every act of my children is a result of my complete failure as a parent. As we speak Bailey is whining because he wants to do play dough, but he doesn’t want to do play dough and he doesn’t want to pack up play dough and I am not doing play dough because I am writing on here which seems like a complete waste of time to a two year old boy. And maybe I should be playing, but then am I giving in to him? And where is the balance in finding time for myself? I can’t seem to find the balance in anything any more. There is always someone waiting. Someone who always misses out. Which makes me wonder if perhaps Bridie’s independence is just a result of being left too much. She can’t be interdependent because she has nothing to depend upon. I hate to think I am letting her down, and yet in myself I don’t know how to make things better. I don’t know how to get done all the things I need to get done at home, as well as give quality time and love to four little people and a husband, and get through the day without feeling like my brain has turned to complete mush and I feeling like I am nothing more than an inconsequential baby sitter.
God has been challenging me of late (like the last two days), to put all the small details of my day into his hands. Everything. Washing and cooking and ironing, and even play dough. I’m pretty good at trusting him at the big stuff, but I am terrible at trusting him with all the little things. And that’s wear I need the most help. Forget turning the water into wine, a miracle in my house would be me getting through the day without yelling at someone. (like when they try to put a play dough ice cream right on my i pad keyboard.)
Maybe the problem is not that Bridie is too independent, maybe the issue is that I am. I’m too busy trying to do everything on my own and in my own strength that I have forgot that I can’t. Maybe I need Nanna Margot to tell me that I still have more to learn. Or maybe I can just look at my kids and realise the same thing.
And playing play dough might just be the place to start.