I read about a new app the other day which keeps parents up to date with the minutiae of their children’s lives whilst at daycare. Apparently it’s becoming more common to keep closer tabs on your little ones (details of nappy changes snacks on your day ‘off’, really?) and the dad quoted in the article said it helped him to feel more connected. I have written in the past (in To my gorgeous boys) about my struggle with the transition when my youngest went to pre-school but now, though of course I miss him, I I relish those ten hours per week when I am in charge of me and me alone. Sometimes I find myself standing staring into space and I wonder how long I have been there, undisturbed by tugging hands, pleading voices, the internal nag that steers me to the next task.
However, my enjoyment is couched in the knowledge that, at the sound of the bored school secretary’s voice I will drop everything and run to comfort them through whatever bang, scrape or ear infection is afflicting them this time. I have had no competing priority for over eight years and I marvel at those mums working away from home who have to juggle and sacrifice and yet who still manage to have a far more organised and tidy home than me! But in a week this will, for a short period, all change. I will be on the other side of the world, in a different time zone, unaware of what they had for breakfast, how their mood is when they finish school, how they feel as they go to bed. I will not be the primary contact number. I am well aware that I probably sound like an over-protective, possessive nutter of a mother and perhaps you are reading this thinking ‘phew, lucky boys having a break’. The thought of saying this about myself would have had be rolling in the aisles before now but I will now admit it, I am a control freak when it comes to my children.
I have never been very good with change, preferring instead the comfortable known of home, people and familiar things. But I am realising that to be a parent, and a good parent, it is important to be, if not adept, then adequate at handing change. Life feels like a constant transition at the moment, and there is a skill in making the most of transition, stepping carefully through the open door before you rather than hammering on the one behind that has slammed shut.
This is why I have explained to them why I am going, and why I am incredibly excited about seeing friends who I have not seen for years, one in particular who has had a tough few months and whose courage and resilience I have cheered on from afar. Just imagining giving her a hug when I see her for the first time is at once quite unbelievable and truly thrilling. It makes me grin from ear to ear imagining our pyjama party next weekend, a boarding school throwback twenty-two years on.
So, I will FaceTime my boys while sharing time with special special friends and family. I have told them that they can call me whenever they want to, day or night. I considered getting a sim card for my old phone in order for them to have a ‘direct line’ to me (as opposed to just using Daddy’s account, what was I thinking?). But I am finding it hard. When William says “I don’t want Mummy to go to Scotland and England”, my heart breaks a little but thrills a little too, it extrapolates the unspoken love between us, verbalises the normally non-verbal, taken for granted, deeply fixed, unconditional love and unbreakable bond. I am holding them just that little bit more often, that little bit closer, that little bit tighter as I try to imprint the feeling of their peachy skin, the weight of their little bodies, the smell and tickle of their hair as I put my face to the top of their heads. Most of the time this is greeted with a “gerroff Mum”, as they peer around me back to the book or screen I am rudely interrupting but I hope it is imprinting me onto them too.
I have bought three books in duplicate, one copy of which I will hide for them to find and the other of which I will take with me in order to read stories together. I will probably write them notes and no-doubt bug Andrew beyond belief with annoying instructions and questions. Overthinking things? Of course, I’m a control freak remember.
I have always been relieved that my boys weren’t ‘runners’, when out and about. I have always imagined us attached by a piece of elastic, rather like a manic three/ eight legged race. When other parents have run after offspring I have been relaxed, always sure in the knowledge mine wouldn’t stray far and that they would ping back. That elastic certainly has its work cut out.