Growing Pains - The emotional turmoil of parenting...

Your children grow so quickly, in the blink of an eye, one minute they they can’t leave you then, the next, they forget to say goodbye. Treasure tiny moments, no matter how insignificant they seem, for one day they will be all grown up and yesterday will be but a dream. 

By Gemma Nuttall. Writer, Life is Knutts.

Making childhood memories. Box Hill, Surrey
Making childhood memories. Box Hill, Surrey

I am an emotional mess at the moment.

I’m not afraid, nor too proud, to admit it. 

If I see an advert on TV for a poxy mobile phone, but with some music I really love over the top of it (like Experience by Ludovico Einaudi) I can be sobbing within five seconds of it starting. It’s utterly ridiculous.

But what has made me like this? 

What on earth could have happened for me to become so overly emotional?

The answer is very simple. 

My children.

 

I’m not silly, I completely knew and understood the perils of having children and the effect they can have on your life. I knew they themselves would be hard work, I knew that they would drain me both physically and mentally of all my energy some days, but what I wasn’t prepared for, was the utter roller-coaster of emotions I would feel on a daily basis by being their Mum. Their protector. And to be quite honest, some days, it is completely overwhelming. 

 

I seem to be riding this emotional roller-coaster a little more often than I would like at the moment and, quite frankly, I cannot wait for the summer holidays to arrive so I can get off it. I feel like I’ve been screaming at the top of my voice, with my hands in the air, for long enough. 

 

Somehow, the end of the school year has come around again so quickly (in my head I still think it is March, not the middle of July) and I am faced with my eldest boy edging ever closer to his final few years of Primary school. It’s a cliche, but it truly does seem like only yesterday that he started; his uniform all new and pristine (ah, the white polo shirts, trust me when I say that they will be stained within the first week of term, you’ll persevere stain removing them every time you wash for the first few months and then, by Christmas, you’ll no longer care about it and just buy new ones every month in the Supermarket, along with your much needed wine supply), the daily routine that is new to you all and, to start with, so full of logistics and unknowns, then finally, the excitement and expectation you all have. What will they achieve during their time at school? Will they make new friends? Will they miss me during the day as much as I will miss them? Will they loose their 18th school jumper this week in the abyss of the cloakroom, despite it being labelled?

The summer term, especially, is a tough one. There is so much that happens in this short term and I think this is why I am a bit of a bedraggled (sometimes Gin bottle hugging) mess at the moment.

By the end of the school year next week, we will have had a pretty busy month where school is concerned. There have been sports days, which in themselves are full of emotional ups and downs, not necessarily because you are desperate for your children to win, but because of the beautiful acts of kindness and sportsmanship that inevitably occur. Junior sports day was yet another occasion I sobbed at recently, thanks mainly to a certain little chap we know who you can read more about here. There have been swimming galas, school trips, first nights away from home without any family for comfort for my eldest, school reports, news breaking of teachers leaving, personal achievements, moving on assemblies for the children as they prepare to change class or leave Primary school altogether, the list goes on...

It’s pretty safe to say there has been many an emotional moment of late.

 

Some artwork by my eldest son. <br>'Perspective'.
Some artwork by my eldest son.
'Perspective'.

The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with recently though, is the sadness of my children. Almost every night for the last week, since the children got told who their new teacher was going to be, both my boys have been in tears most days. My middle one (who is 6) is suffering more than my eldest, but both are upset and, for the first time ever, I can’t seem to comfort them, nor make it any better, and I feel utterly helpless.

I know it’s not that bad in the grand scheme of things, they are only moving teachers/classes within the same school, we are all (touch wood) well, nobody has died and it is all part of growing up, but it is so emotionally draining seeing your child sob themselves to sleep almost every night, that I have become a bit of a blubbing wreck myself. My middle son can’t even say his teachers name at the moment without his eyes filling with tears and then saying, “the water is coming in my eyes mummy, I can’t stop it!” before starting to sob again. He has to hug her on the way into class every morning, and not just a little cuddle either, a full on bear hug. I know this is a really silly thing to say, but it is almost like he is grieving. Bear with me, as I said, nobody here has died (thankfully) and I’m not trying to trivialise the feelings people experience whilst grieving for someone they have lost in any way, but to me, that is the only way I can describe the emotions he is displaying. 

Over the top? Maybe. Heartfelt? Certainly.

I’ve tried to help him by explaining that we can still see her every day, that we can walk past her classroom and say hello, that he will still see her in assembly and at playtime, but it’s no use. He is truly going to miss her, and he is feeling so many emotions about all the changes going on in his little world that, at the moment, they can only manifest themselves as tears. It makes you realise how much our little ones take in what is happening around them when you see them like this. You realise how attached they get to their teachers during the year, you see the trust and the relationship they have clearly built up and to break that, to move them on and start anew, all over again with someone else the next school year, truly is a tough thing for some children to deal with. 

As I said earlier, it is all a learning curve and part of growing up. You may think I should just tell him to, ‘stop being so silly and snap out of it’, but I won’t do that. I will not say that to him. I don’t want him to bottle his feelings up, to suppress them. If he is feeling sad, he should be allowed to feel sad and cry. All I can do is be there to try and help him.

 

Next Thursday, the last day of school, is looming over us like a large black cloud at the moment. We know it is coming, there is nothing we can do about it, and I will be wearing my oversized sunglasses to the school pickup that day. I am preparing myself for tears from both boys which, in turn, will undoubtedly set me off as well. The end of the emotional roller-coaster is in sight, but I fear the end of the ride still has a few bumps and turns in store for me before the school year is out. 

It feels like our children are forced to grow up very quickly these days. They are forced to deal with a whole range of emotional situations from the get-go, with very few years of blissful ignorance and only a small window of time where they are oblivious to the pains of the adult world. The quote below, sums that sentiment up beautifully in my eyes and yet, at the same time, it fills me with sadness that it would appear that both my older boys, at the ages of just 6 and 8, have ‘left their childhood behind’ in this one small way. They are fretting about the future, they are anxious about what is to come, and this is what I am not ready for as a parent just yet. I’m probably, rather selfishly, not ready for them to grow up yet...

“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

But such is life, the ever turning wheel.

It’s something we must accept and, ultimately, embrace.

Moving on.

Growing up.

Another year passing us by.

Another step closer to my children not depending on me quite so much.

Another year closer to leaving childhood behind.

******************

You see, it’s not just us, the parents, riding this emotional roller-coaster, it’s the children too.

The emotional roller-coaster of childhood, pausing briefly for a moment in the form of the summer holidays, before starting all over again in the new school year. I’ll be in this same position again next year and there is nothing we can do about it. Nobody said it was easy.

Therefore, I’m making a pledge to my boys, to make this a summer full of making memories. Childhood memories, that will hopefully stay with them forever. 

Sunset clouds. Another day in our lives coming to an end, a new one just beginning.
Sunset clouds. Another day in our lives coming to an end, a new one just beginning.
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