To my gorgeous boys
I am without you all today, all day, for the first time in as long as I can remember. And I will be without you again tomorrow and every Thursday and Friday to follow. This is a watershed for us as I regain some of the time I have devoted to you over the last (almost) eight years. ‘You won’t know yourself’, everyone told me, and so I don’t. But it is not entirely as they might have meant; I am not jumping for joy and celebrating my ‘freedom’. I am trying to quietly assess how it is I feel without a sticky little hand in mine while I narrate our day and respond to every excited shout about dogs, cool cars, massive film adverts on the side of buses and fielding every plaintive request for sweeties or chocolate, until I give in after you turn your big eyes on me and ask why I am allowed a skimmed mocha – EVERY DAY!
In a very real sense I don’t know myself. This year, during my precious two days a week I am going to find out who I have become since you have been around – who is under the layers of mother, wife, cook, cleaner, seamstress (not often I know), chauffeur, medic, negotiator, teacher, friend. You have made me all these things, you have made me a better person, a bigger person, you have all taught me so much. And we’ve only just begun really.
This past week we have had so many firsts; pre-school, big school, cricket, swimming gala, and you have all three taken each in your stride with such confidence and a can-do attitude – even if that has been after a little wobble.
Despite you, Edward greeting me at the end of your wonderful day at pre-school with tears in your eyes, belying your outer confidence, I know it is the right place for you to be. You will bring beautiful friends into our family life and create memories you will cherish. This marks the apron strings just beginning to fray, an infinitesimal movement away and I cherish sharing it with you, hard sometimes though it is to see my baby with such growing independence. This morning you took in a stick which had, in your imagination, become a boomerang and you proudly shared this vision with your teachers. You reminded me that our imagination is the starting point for everything important we undertake. This is how I learn from you.
Sam, you have faced the start of your school career in your usual beautifully relaxed way. Your honesty about your nerves before starting was humbling, as adults so often find it hard to admit how they really feel, putting on a front to show to the world how strong they are. With you there is no artifice, you love – and battle when necessary – with such intensity. And your kindness, your incredible kindness. On Tuesday when you brought some beautiful kindy pictures home, your brother (smaller) scrumpled one up, upsetting you terribly. I hauled him over the coals and left him to stew on the piano stool until suppertime. Next thing, there you were sitting on the floor beside him reading stories, having brought him his teddies for comfort. When I asked if you were no longer upset, you said sincerely, “It’s ok Mummy, I’ve got three more.” That is generosity my darling, you will seldom see amongst us old lot, we find it hard to forgive, holding onto grudges and allowing bitterness and pride to swallow us up if we’re not careful. This is how I learn from you.
William, my precious eldest, you are such a superstar. You are taking care of your little brother at school, allowing him to join in your games, making sure he is finding his way. On Tuesday it was the swimming gala, in which you were allowed to participate for the first time, being a big year two boy. After great excitement the night before, on Tuesday morning the butterflies got the better of you and your slight apprehension turned to terror and a determination not to even go, let alone swim. Once we established this was impossible you grudgingly went to school and I have no idea what went on in your mind between nine o’clock and ten o’clock but when I found you, (having done a mad dash to buy you some speedos, sorry, useless) sitting in the stands you had a swimming cap on your head and a gleam in your eye while you told me excitedly you were going to do the 50m freestyle. Having not had a swimming lesson since you were about ten months old and little – let’s face it, no – knowledge of stroke technique I tried to talk you out of it. 25 meters was enough I said, that was all most people in the year would be doing. But there was absolutely no talking you out of it and as Miss N called the race, up you jumped. I apologise if I made a spectacle of myself walking alongside as you valiantly slogged through the water. The lifeguard was trying to decide whether to be concerned or not so I gave him my best Paddington stare that said ‘just try it’. I have never been as proud of you as I was the moment you touched the end of that pool and looked at me in triumph and exhaustion – that is until you did it all over again an hour later in the breaststroke! Where that confidence came from I have no idea, I’m afraid I don’t think you get it from me. But wherever, the important thing is that you try your hardest never lose it. A beautiful friend sent me a message on Tuesday evening in which she called you fearless and brave. This is how I learn from you.
We are on our own for a bit while your Daddy is being strong a long way away. He is, as I am, inordinately proud of you and misses you dreadfully but he will be back soon and you will have such stories to share. Your adaptability and resilience astound me. I wish I could tell you life is easy; it isn’t. If I was to choose attributes to help navigate the path they would be fearlessness, kindness, generosity, confidence, and bravery. You all possess each in spades. You astonish me anew every day, and infuriate me anew every day. I wouldn’t change a thing.
All my love always,