#TimetoRead No.9 April 5,2020

As I sit eating a hot-cross bun in January, I think of how quickly we are thrown from one calendar event to the next. The Back to School signs bordering highways, brandishing shopping centres, clogging mailboxes have been preparing me for weeks for the return of a new school year – a cosmic sign grounding parents everywhere (especially the stay-at-homes) in the promise of an easier load between the hours of nine and three-thirty. 

At the end of the last school holidays, another school mum asked me how the holidays were. Apparently, my answer went against the tide. ‘Actually really good. I had two whole weeks at home with three children AND enjoyed it.’ The very next morning I was seen dragging my pre-schooler up the hill, kicking and screaming, after bolting to the back of the oval because it was time to leave the school family picnic – even at this event, moments earlier, I had professed feeling reinvigorated; actually, enjoying this mothering thing.

Now, I’ve learnt not to gloat about school holiday success (a.k.a. actually enjoying time spent with my children) because as soon as you acknowledge that you’re feeling on top of things, you lose your edge. Like sniffer dogs at an airport, kids have a heightened awareness, they sense complacency, the ease with which you parent and like a dog, they piss all over it, marking their territory if only to remind you that yours is an unconditional love. 

Just the other week I heard a mum speak about her darling boy starting high school; ‘and then I’ll be free!’ she said.  I get it, I totally get it. But sometimes I think I’m guilty of guiding my children to progress before they are ready. 

‘What if I can’t find you?’ my eldest son said, more than once, after I suggested we meet at a meeting spot in the school, instead of walking down to his classroom. 

Since it was clearly the instigator of undue anxiety, I quickly retracted my suggestion. ‘I will come to your classroom for as long as you need,’ I insisted, wondering how I would navigate all those stairs with the pram (or, perhaps, I would take the longer route).

‘What if I’m in grade six and I still need you to come to my classroom?’

‘Then, I will be there,’ I said because it’s not so terrible to feel needed.