Wednesday, 29 January 2014

on my first child starting school // looking back and looking forward

The time has come - that time that once seemed an eternity away now springing out at us from amidst the dust of Christmas decorations and summer holidays. My firstborn, my daughter is starting full time school next week. Kindergarten has come!

It feels.... strange.

This sentimental post may or may not be inspired by seeing Lily decked out in her uniform today!!!
I was checking it all fitted before I ironed on the labels ;) 

Last year was a special one. We became a family of five, and I also always had in the front of mind that it was my firstborn's last year before beginning school. I am so grateful I had that precious year - of having three at home, and of adjusting for the transition to come. I am also glad we got a little 'trial' run with preschool which is five days a fortnight (yay, Canberra!). A taste of the school life!

I have heard it said, that when your first child starts school, the whole family starts school. And how true it is. Lily is not the only one who will now arrange her days around school picks and drops offs. Nine AM and three PM will become firmly entrenched in all our body clocks - even the baby who must be duly woken early from naps, (even in the pouring, freezing rain) to do the school run. Lily is not the only one working around school terms and school holidays, we all do - planning our vacations accordingly (to an extent!). A new world. A world of packed lunches, five days a week (eeeeeeek, just the thought of this exahusts me). Homework and parent/teacher interviews, assemblies, school-friend drama and whatever else will come at us. I cannot even fathom at this point!

Come Monday morning, we commence what I quickly calculated to be seventeen years of schooling for our family (combined for my three).

Seventeen years.


Though certainly on the tail end of that I don't expect to be packing lunches or doing school pick ups, it is still a season commencing, and a rather significant one!

I will be a School Mum. Something so official about that, when half the time, (even three kids in), I still kinda feel like I am just 'playing make believe' at this whole grown up, mothering, responsible life! A school mum, wow. It's hard not to smirk at the 'cliche' of talking to school principals and hunting for the perfect lunchbox!!

As this era commences, so another one closes... for Lily at least. I was so blessed to have over five incredible years at home with her. Yet a little while ago, I began to feel a rising panic... now she was off to school, and our 'stay at home life' together was over. What about all the things I didn't do, do enough, or not do at all, during that precious half-decade? Did I go to the MUSEUM enough??? Why didn't we do more BUSH WALKS!!? And didn't I always plan to go to the Recycling Centre but we never did!! Did I give her enough rich learning experiences, cuddly quiet home days, a firm enough foundation? Why didn't we travel more?! And so on. You know, just your mother's standard late night self-induced guilt trip ;)

I quickly realised such thoughts were silly and pointless and not even the point of what this 'stay at home' gig is all about. Because you know what? It's mostly about time. And of that.....we had an abundance. Together. So I began instead to reflect on what I was thankful for about these five 'early years' at home with my daughter. For I am thankful for so very, very much. Gratitude has truly been the primary emotion rising to the surface as I reflect on this upcoming transition.

I am brimming over with gratitude for this half decade with my girl. Being at home fulltime was a conscious choice that we planned for, prayed for and God helped us bring to fruition. It's been wonderful. I'm not saying that there were not hard, hard, hard days, but I always knew we were both in the right place for our family. It has not all been fun, clean, glamourous or Pinterest-worthy, but it's been life in our family home and we have both been present for it - the good, the bad and, oh yes indeed, the ugly!! ;)  Today I feel grateful that even in those wretched moments, I never even for a moment doubted our decision for me to stay home. Not saying that it's right for every family or the only way to parent well, please be sure of that!! I'm just feeling personally thankful for these five years, that I got to be there and witness each moment of this transformation from baby to girl. Getting to know her heart and learn her ways. My girl, she has been ever so gracious with me as I have learnt along the way (with many fails and falls!).

I am thankful she has experienced a carefree childhood. A quiet, simple, adventurous and nurturing five years. Full of the magical and the mundane. I am thankful it has been rather protected - largely free of technology, pop culture and commercialisation. Five years safe in this gentle little world before she launches into a bigger, wilder and more complex one. The outside world's influences will begin to flood in much faster now as she enters those school doors, a somewhat unstoppable tide. But for five sweet and transformative years, her heart, her mind and her eyes were mostly free from those pervasive influences. Her tender heart has flourished freely in our home, amongst family, friends and a tender church community. With burgeoning independence, she will now spend her days influenced in a much greater sense by her teachers and oh yes, her peers. She will make decisions, she will make mistakes, she will be both strong and weak. But I am grateful... for five gentle years, for time to fill that heart and mind with (what I pray has been!) a strong and solid foundation. Our work has been building her sense of identity in our family and in our faith... things which may help her stand strong against those outside pressures and challenges.

I am also grateful for a childhood free of academics, flashcards and pressure to learn in a formal sense. It's been a childhood full of play and real life experiences. Play-based learning, self-led discovery, adventure, learning and creating. Kids free to be kids, in other words ;) Play is the work of childhood and my girl embraced that work with vigor - and had the time and support to do so. As more structured academics take place, I know she is ready in every sense to embrace this too and is eager and excited to learn - having already soaked up the basics in her self-starting enthusiasm! I hope that eagerness is not too quickly quenched. A love for learning is a key that opens so many doors. She is one blessed little girl to receive a quality education in our country.

I am grateful for time to instill foundations of faith and values in the hearts of my children. Stuff that is more caught than taught, the stuff of faith that I pray flavours our daily life and motivates our priorities and our way of living. Ultimately, these are the things that truly matter, and what motivates my parenting (and everything else). I pray she knows that her loving Heavenly Father will be there to walk with her through every high and low of school life. There will be tests, temptations, stresses and peer pressures, but God is a patient, loving, and wise Father and above anything else, I pray she turns to Him and His loving care and guidance.

Little brother was eager to get in on the action. His school transition will be so much easier - on both of us!

Now... I recognise Lily is not actually being sent off to war or anything, haha!!! ;) But still, the upcoming shift is significant. For her and yes, for her mother!! And yes, I already miss her, and the place she takes in our home...

She is growing up, stepping out... it is all as it should be. She is ready for school and so I am ready to support her in that journey. We will learn together, adjust together, struggle together and apart. We will soak up those holiday breaks with lazy pajama days and of course in the mean time, I will be chugging along with life at home with two little boys. My job in the home is certainly not yet done! It will be different for them too, they also 'start school' in a way, when Lily does. They will be my busy little men at home and we will have our own adventures and hijinks!! Eli will miss Lily dreadfully but he is blessed to have a little brother to play with in her absence. Things don't ever stay the same. The past season was a great one and this one will be too, in it's own unique way.

So, this year is a big one for our doubt tiring, no doubt it will have it's challenges (and blessings). But I am also excited to see my first little bird fly a little way further out of the nest and learn to fly read and write and learn, learn, learn in a new, rich and supportive environment! She will have fun, make friends, all that good stuff. She is tender but resilient, eager to learn and I know she will love school (though she is a little nervous at the moment too). Her independence and capabilities will flourish and we will be at home - always waiting, and ready to cheer her on.

So... let's do this. Sniffles and nostalgia aside, we are ready for this new era. God be with us :)

The contrast between home life and school life is quite apparent :)

1 comment:

  1. Oh what a lovely post... I remember the day my oldest kids started school, and even though we'd had an extra year at home/preschool and were so ready it was still a momentous leap!

    This year those twins are in year 6 and now my smallest is starting school... how fast the years fly!


i love to hear your thoughts, thanks for leaving your comments! xx