Releasing the middle one.

Release: 1. To set free from confinement, restraint, or bondage: released the prisoners. 2. To free from something that binds, fastens, or holds back; let go: released the balloons; released a flood of questions. 3. To dismiss, as from a job.

So, it’s Wednesday again and time for a quote from me for my #wednesdaywords. And this Wednesday is indeed a very special one. For today, my middle child started school. Well, I say started…he actually only went in for two hours as the school has a ridiculously long settling in period, but nevertheless it was the first day he would wear his uniform and cross the threshold of the school building independently. A building where he will spend the next 7 years of his life and come out an entirely different person, shaped and moulded by many different experiences.

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The first drop off thankfully went very smoothly. There were no battles about putting the uniform on, no tears about us leaving; just a gentle apprehension about what would happen next. The boy is so confident in so many ways and yet so shy and stilted in others. New experiences gently shake him and new people cause him to become mute and often hide behind my legs. I was worried about him starting school, worried as to whether he’d actually talk to any of the adults there. However this morning he embraced the change; the new; the unknown. He seemed a little nervous, but mostly excited about what was coming. And when he came out he was buzzing with talk of everything he’d done. He surprised me and I felt so proud. I’m a firm believer in bringing my children up to be confident and independent and his independence today made me smile. Even though he wasn’t 100% confident, he had the courage to do something new, like all of the other wonderful children in his class.

Interestingly this morning it was actually my husband who was the emotional one; he says he can never explain exactly why he is emotional (men!) but today he felt like he was giving our son over to a new part of his life. He said he hadn’t felt that emotional since the birth of our youngest. That it was the uniform, the formality. The emotion, my husband says, came completely out of the blue as he’d mostly been very excited about seeing our son off to school. And then leaving him and seeing him all alone in the classroom hit him hard. This made me feel a bit guilty, for I’d spent so many weeks preparing the boy for school that I’d forgotten all about Daddy…who was a mess!

And me. Ah where to start. Surprisingly given everything I’ve blogged about in the past I was actually very strong today. I’ve become very good at compartmentalising things; for example when I’m at work I am focused on work and don’t think about home, and vice versa when I am at home. Today I knew my role was to be happy and confident and show my son that school was nothing to fear, that it was something to enjoy and be excited about. I knew I couldn’t cry or hang around and pander to his apprehension or that would make it worse for him. I guess the primary school teacher in me came out a little bit as well. I knew being strong would help my son and would help his teachers. (And maybe, dare I say it, help me too?!)

So no, I haven’t cried yet. Maybe I’m not allowing myself to comprehend the enormity of today. But maybe it’s not the actual starting school bit I’m sad about. For he’s not the only one staring school today; there are hundreds and thousands of small children starting this week just like there were last year and will be again next year. No, it’s not that he’s starting school that makes me sad, it’s the loss of our time together. It’s that my little boy will spend most of his days away from me; changing, learning, and growing with someone else guiding him. As teachers we are ‘in loco parentis.’ We are their parents when they are at school and I’m emotional about having to share my son with so many other people. People who may hear him read his first word, or answer his first sum. People who will be as proud of his achievements as I am. People that aren’t me.

I’ve blogged about releasing children before. About how they are slowly released from us over time and that we have to let them go, confident that they will be safe in the care of others and will learn to trust their instincts and make the right decisions in the future, but I am always surprised about how hard I actually find it. My Twitter and Facebook timelines are full of mums and dads anxious and emotional about their children starting school. Parents who are pushed out of their comfort zones and are having to do something that they find difficult in learning to release their children a little bit. I know I’m not the only one. Can I offer advice? Wisdom? Can I reassure these parents that it gets easier with each child? Ummm no, sadly I don’t think I can…because for me it hasn’t. And I imagine that when my youngest goes to school in three years time, I may not be as composed as I have been today. For me it seems, releasing my children is proving to be be more difficult with each child.

Based on all of this the quote I have chosen for today’s #wednesdaywords is this….
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Because today in this family, we’ve all had to do something that scares us a little bit. Be it starting school…or letting go.

10 thoughts on “Releasing the middle one.

  1. You’ve pretty much summed up everything I think and feel about being a parent. I have absolutely no doubt I’ll be an emotional mess when the time comes for littlest to go to school, but I will hide it well! If my children enter adulthood happy and confident I will be very pleased indeed.

  2. Gulp. My eldest is starting playgroup tomorrow. You have summed up how I feel so well – all I’m managing to articulate to people is “he’s my baby, I don’t wanna!”. This is the first step of his ‘release’. I’m so glad your middle one enjoyed his time at school. (I’m a teacher too so hoping I can put my teacher head on tomorrow!)

  3. Oh gosh, this has set me off again. I’ve struggled so much with Roh starting as she’s my youngest, my baby, and I suddenly feel that pain of letting go. Your quote somehow makes it a more proactive thing, and allows me to feel like it’s something I’m doing ‘letting her go’ (which is scary) rather than ‘losing her’ (which is out of my control). Thanks honey – beautifully written xx

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