So my twins have started ‘big’ school…when they look anything but big! I’m always saying “what a big boy” and “you’re such a big girl”, but when you put a school uniform on them, even the tiniest possible size, they seem to shrink back down to being your tiny little ones again. My little girl Anya is swamped by her cardigan, even she says it’s “stupid”, she seems too tiny to be wearing a school uniform.
For me this time the heartbreak has been huge. Saying goodbye to such a busy and all consuming chapter in my life and waving off my precious babies to the next stage in their exciting lives. It’s hit me hard and especially when Anya has cried and screamed every day, in fact kicked the teacher twice! I can’t believe they are four and a half, can’t believe my tiny 2lb miracles are now ready for school at all! I just want to hold them a little longer, extend this chapter and I suppose feel them in my arms needing me like they used to.
I was no different when Zac started school and I can’t believe he’s now in year 5. I felt like I was handing my baby over the state and I was losing him. I was heartbroken but unlike Anya, he never looked back and took to it like a duck to water, which perhaps made it worse. I wanted him to miss me and need me!
And yet, that pain was different. I was determined not to make a big deal of the huge milestone my twins going to school was given their prematurity and bumpy start to life because right now, four and half years on, we are a normal family, they are happy healthy kids and I am just like any other mummy who’s kid is starting school. I avoided the reference to their start and it felt nice to be like a ‘normal’ mummy for once.
What I did feel was that my pain was wholly different to that of those mummies whose first born was starting and who were desperate for another child to fill that void. Whose ‘baby’ was flying and leaving an empty nest when their mummy was desperate and unable to fill the vacancy. Who had watched every milestone and month pass by hoping to conceive at least, never mind give birth, by September so they didn’t feel bereft. Who had to leave nursery or pre-school yet didn’t feel ready to leave that life, that routine or group of carers. Who was watching other mummies in the playground try to get their child into school whilst battling a feisty toddler or juggle a new baby when their arms were left empty. Who just wanted to scream let me have my baby back, I’m not ready for this experience to end. Who cried a million tears silently, on her own, not just at the child starting school but at the child who she loved but had lost or not yet met.
I was that mummy when Zac started school. It was an all consuming experience that too few could understand. It had so many layers, was so complex and was hugely painful. Life was racing on fast forward and I couldn’t keep up. I was supposed to have another baby by then. I had lost the opportunity on too many occasions and life wasn’t panning out as I’d planned or hoped for. And it hurt.
This week, Facebook was filled with mummies tormented by their little one starting school, with a few able to admit the pain and hurt at their loneliness and it was heartbreaking to read.
I have no real effective words of comfort, advice or tips on how to cope in these weeks ahead. It’s tough enough for me with the twins starting knowing I no longer yearn for a child, but I know it’s doubly tough for you with the empty void you also feel, the frustration that haunts you and the feeling that people don’t understand the depth of your hurt.
But I do. And there are others who do too. Find them, talk to them, open up and share your feelings. Be kind to yourself. Cut yourself some slack and squeeze that baby with all your might when you strip off that “stupid”, over-sized uniform and tuck them up tonight. x