So, here’s how it looks in colour…
My youngest son has been given a place at pre-school next year. Two days a week.
This should (and on some level does) fill me with joy.
However, when I received the confirmation email I experienced a kind of sinking feeling inside (and no, it was nothing to do with my recent surgery – that’s holding up nicely, thank you).
It’s not that he’s my baby and I can’t handle the thought of him going. It’s only pre-school. I’ve had practice sending kids to pre-school.
And he’s a confident little chap. He can often be spotted at his favourite local cafe, counting fruit and passionately arguing the difference between a pomegranate and a persimmon, looking up occasionally to enquire about the whereabouts of his banana bread and milkshake.
I have no doubt he will hold his own amongst his pre-school peers.
No, there are two reasons why I read the email with a sense of foreboding.
One, is that I can no longer delay toilet training. This is it – game on.
It is not going to be fun. My boy does not like to work to other people’s agenda’s.
He is fairly polite about it at the moment and turns down a suggestion that he might like to use the toilet in the same way he would a suggestion to go to the park, if he was busy playing with toys. A sort of “I don’t think so, but thanks for asking anyway.”
This is what you call the calm before the storm.
The second reason is that come February and the start of the new school year, I will feel a kind of guilt that I have been pushing into a corner and covering with stuff for a few years now.
I will feel guilty about not working.
I didn’t feel guilty about stopping working when I had my first child. The outstanding husband and I had an agreement. I would have babies, he would work. We made this agreement on account of the fact that he couldn’t have babies and I couldn’t earn as much as him.
There wasn’t much time for guilt between babies one and two, but it started to creep in at some stage, probably around the time I stopped being a food source for my second child. Guilt nudged me and told me I should be doing more.
I had friends who couldn’t understand how I could feel fulfilled simply hanging out with toddlers all day. Wasn’t I bored? (Bored – no, teetering close to insanity – fairly often)
When it seemed as though I was in a minority, surrounded by women who contributed to the mortage payments and raved about how they were better mothers for being away from their children for large chunks of the week, I wondered if I was, in fact, opting out of real-life.
I worked weekends for a while, hoping that would be enough to keep the guilt at bay and convince those around me I was more than ‘just a mother’.
Then I was rescued by those two blue lines once again and when baby number three came along I finally felt like I could justify being out of paid employment.
I was busy. Really, truly busy and anyone who saw me could not deny that fact.
And that’s where I have been for the last three and a half years. Busy and pretty much guilt-free in my avoidance of an inarguable truth:
I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!
I was a nurse, in what now feels like another life. I liked my job.
Unfortunately, during my child-producing years, the rules changed and if I were to go back to nursing I would have to pay a lot of money for the priviledge of proving myself competent.
I didn’t like my job that much.
So, in a few months time, I am going to be smacked in the face by guilt while it tells me that I should be able to find a job that I like, that pays well, with a flexible employer who is fine with me leaving at a moments notice to collect one or other of my children for reasons of illness, unhappiness or unforeseen yet inevitable meltdowns!
Oh, and I have five hours, two days a week to do this dream job in, between school runs.
A few months ago I may have considered having another child as a suitable alternative or at least a good delaying tactic, but for reasons of a runaway uterus, that is most definitely not an option now.
Could this really be time to face the music?
Answers (and career suggestions) on a postcard please.
Until next time…
The Outstanding Wife