So school’s back in tomorrow, which means that I might be able to keep my cool for longer than two days. Two days being about the longest time between some small person doing something to warrant an icy blast of my lost cool.
I have spent the last bit of holidays covering and naming all the school books AND sewing name tags into the uniforms and MAN I am pleased with myself. I know, I SEWED, I am a SEWER (ah no wonder they came up with seamstress).
And I used those good ol’ Cash’s name tags that Mum used for us a hundred years ago, the ones that have a perfectly embroidered name on and invisible subtext that reads, “I have a very excellent mother”. I’m just itching to parade those babies around at school pickup near the permanent marker/iron on mothers. I was one of them once (last year and probably next year).
I didn’t use contact on the books though. Fuck you contact – and your bubbles. I have found and fallen in love with SLIP COVERS. I just have to slip my book inside those darlings and in about 20 seconds I’m done and ready to move on to sticky labels. It’s a beautiful thing. Contact would display more dedication though.
I did cover all the books in patterned paper before I put the slip covers on so that makes up for the short-cut-covers doesn’t it? Last year I covered the books in brown paper and let the children stick pictures all over them. My son stuck a picture of a dead kangaroo on one of his and my daughter used a picture of money and a bottle of gin. So much for letting them express themselves. This year the control freak in me took over and the result is fairly respectable and road-kill free. They were allowed to choose the paper and press the print button on the label maker but I was hovering and vetting.
Because after all, this book-covering, name-labeling business, along with lunch-making, uniform washing and hair-doing is mostly to do with my child’s well being and NOT LOSING ANYMORE JUMPERS but also to do with how it reflects on me. How many times have I hoped the teachers won’t notice how many pre-packaged items of food are in my children’s lunch boxes or that some renowned earth mother won’t see the contents of my supermarket trolley? How many times have I been tempted to tell everyone I see that the children’s lunchboxes contain zucchini slice made by me? (Oh that’s right never, because they’ve never had zucchini slice made by me in their lunchboxes. So yeah.).
I wish I could say that I don’t care what others think. But I do. This whole raising kids thing seems to have a clandestine competitive edge. I see it often and sometimes I catch myself running for the front.
Anyway, all that aside and despite feeling all self-satisfied over my sewing and covering, this year’s back to school time is giving me a sinking-in-the-tummy feeling. My youngest child is going to big school, 5 days a week, and the pre-school/kinder what-shall-we-do-today-maybe-nothing-or-maybe-we’ll-bake-a-cake-and-eat-it days are over. I won’t have my little attachment anymore, no more food-court lunches for two on a Tuesday or gardening together days or pushing the pram to the bus stop to wait for the others. No more one-on-one with my baby. No more baby.
A lot of the time she gave me the shits but still, now at crunch time, I want her to give me the shits for longer. What if I didn’t make the most of it? What if I hurried about getting cross too much and won’t remember any of it? Did I smell enough roses amidst the boring bits (and poo smells)? In another minute I’ll be wearing a boucle suit at her wedding and lamenting myself sick.
I guess I’m catastrophizing because this year I also turn 40, which makes it a wholly catastrophic year really. I don’t want to turn 40. That’s half of 80. And I still haven’t worked out what I want to do when I grow up, which is kind of okay at 30 but laughable at 40. 40 on top of 5 free days a week means that I should stop fannying about and get serious about something. With a child at my heels I could legitimately wander about all day achieving not much except making sure she’s safe and happy and growing and warm etc. I could get my nails done now and then or go out of our way for a milk shake and do a bit of writing during sleeps or catching up with friends in the park. I can’t do that stuff on my own when it’s only benefiting me and when I should be being productive and when I’m FORTY.
I’m told being forty means you stop worrying about what other people think of you and start getting real. So maybe this is all wasted anxiety. Maybe I’ll wake up on June the 3rd and wonder who the silly woman was who sewed all those ridiculous name tags on when you can iron the bloody things on and spend the extra time getting your nails done. Maybe I’ll see through all the thirty-something’s look-at-my-homemade-parsnip-chip-please-think-I’m-brilliant behaviour and surrender with pride to the okay-I’m-a-slack-mum sprinkle sandwiches and hasty ponytails.
Maybe I’ll decide never to grow up, go back to uni and get my belly button pierced.
Maybe I’ll have another baby – I mean I don’t know much else anymore and isn’t 40 too old to turn your hand at something new? Another baby could buy me a few more years.
Oh God no, I won’t have another baby. That was just a fleeting, knee-jerk reaction to this upcoming year of potential crisis and anyway, I never want to experience that late pregnancy, “I have a foot in my lungs and I think my rectum is falling out” feeling ever again.
Maybe I’ll just relax, embrace the changes, make the most of the last of my thirties and remind myself just how short the school day is.
For now I just have to go to bed. It’s a school night after all.