Great expectations: those first five years
This year our son started prep! Yes, after what felt like the quickest 5 years ever, the tiny baby we welcomed into the world on Valentine’s Day 2013 raced off to school with much excitement, anticipation and just a little fear. After that first day, we lay in his bed and talked about his day as we do every night. I wasn’t quite expecting the response I got – “Mummy, were you proud of me for being brave today? I felt the water in my eyes but I didn’t let it come because me and Dylan won’t need you soon”.
Whaaaat!?! Hold up, what are you talking about? You started primary school, you’re not moving out of home, heading off to uni, or buying a house (though help me when we reach those milestones!). And even then, you WILL still need me! I went to sleep that night with his words swirling around my head, wondering how a 5 year old actually perceives the start of school – and the world for that matter!
This was my conclusion: it was his way of saying he’s growing up. And being a big kid means more responsibility. Primary school marked the start of that journey in his still very small eyes. He knew it was something he had to do, and he knew he needed to push outside of his comfort zone to do it. And, although he will always need me, he also knew he needed to accept more responsibility – for putting his bag away, for selecting his own lunch from his lunch box, for keeping is daily folder safe and bringing home important notes for mum and dad. For, well, growing up.
All this got me wondering, what contribution did I have to such a profound realisation from my boy. Like all mums, I had the greatest of expectations when we were expecting. We’d do everything right, we’d have casual park dates with his (and my) new friends, the house would be clean before we left and everything freshly washed. I’d cook everything from scratch, researching low fat, low sugar options so I knew exactly what he was eating and he’d naturally love the biggest range of fresh fruit and veg. I’ll admit, it all started well – our tiny 6lb baby fed like a champ, slept like a champ and was a pretty happy little dude.
Then reality hits. We were always late to those play dates, if we made it. The house was a mess – showering or doing one load of washing was deemed success. Most days we were still in PJs when daddy came home – and dinner was still a distant thought. Daycare starts and then came the sickness. And constant days off work. I suddenly felt like having a career and a child really wasn’t that glamorous – or achievable for that matter. The home baked muffins turned into shop bought snacks (unwrapped and put in a plastic tubs so they at least looked homemade). Enter baby number two – and everything that was left went out the window, including any patience this Mumma had. It was groundhog day, except this time around there was a toddler to contend with – terrible twos, toilet training, a rough instinct for boy play despite his baby brother being, well, a baby!
Now at 2 and 5 years, I can only describe our house as chaos. Noisy, messy chaos. They rarely listen, or pack away. I yell just as much as they do. Sometimes I embrace it. Sometimes I don’t (read: loose it). Over the past 5 years, I’ve questioned my ability as a mother time and time again, whether I actually have what it takes to get this under control. To nurture and grow little people into big people.
But in that one moment, I realised that I’ve done something right. And despite not meeting my own great expectations at every, single, little step along the way, I’ve met his. And that’s all that matters.