Friday, 12 July 2013

The End of an Era - The Start of Something New

I've never been a fan of change.  I like things how they are, with me in control, knowing where I am and what to expect.  It comforts me and keeps me safe.  But life is all about change.  The status quo is in a state of constant flux, with time ebbing and flowing and bringing new challenges in on the tide of life.  Nothing stays the same.  How can it?

I am at a crossroads in my life.  Nothing major in the scheme of things, but life changing to me.  Freddy is going to be going to school in September.  Until now, being a stay at home mum to my fifth and last child has defined me.  Extended breastfeeding and bed sharing with a boy that never slept through the night has made parenting him an intense experience.  But over the months, his reliance on me has become less and less, as my son has found his way towards his increasing independence.

Freddy has not always been an easy child.  For a while I worried about him terribly.  He was high maintenance, fearful of other people, painfully shy and distressed by new experiences.  Someone suggested whether I'd considered Asperger's Syndrome as a reason for his behavior, and I have to admit it had crossed my mind. I also wondered whether the fact that I was over 40 when I had him had possibly been responsible for the way he was.  But I wasn't about to label my toddler or beat myself up about selfishly wanting another child late in life.  My son was unique, precious and an absolute joy, as long as he felt secure in his surroundings.  He just needed to find his way to deal with life outside of his very limited comfort zone.

Starting nursery was a nightmare.  I put him in the local setting attached to the Infant School that I thought he would ultimately attend.  It is a popular and oversubscribed nursery so I was fortunate to find him a place in the afternoons.  However, it was all wrong for him.  It was horrendous seeing my son regress further into himself, screaming hysterically, physically hurting himself, stuttering and going rigid with fear. He even became afraid of the people he knew, losing his trust in everything. It all happened so quickly.  The negative changes were sudden and extreme.  I blamed myself.  I felt torn between wanting to protect him and keep him away from the world, and feeling frustrated and angry that he wasn't like the other kids.  The reassurances that the nursery made to me before he started, about buddying him up with another child to help him integrate and allowing me to stay if need be, were just empty promises. The emphasis on the setting was school readiness, rigid structure and independence. There was no room for manoeuvre.  My son thrived on love, nurture and security.  It was too soon to try to make a highly nervous 3 year old into a schoolboy.  It was all wrong.

I was proud of myself for taking him out of that place.  I thought it'd feel like defeat, but it didn't.  I had the power to make a change and I did.  I knew however, that it was important for him to take a step towards starting school as he will be just 4 years and 2 months old come September.  But he needed the right nursery to help nurture him towards being independent.  I found the perfect place, with the perfect people.  An emphasis on play and child-led activities.  An ethos of love and care, not a hands off approach.  Children are cuddled and allowed to go at their own pace. The atmosphere is relaxed.  It's fun and friendly.  The structure does not consume the children.  It's a happy place.  The place which turned my son around and made him flourish and grow and become the confident, independent and wonderful little man he is today.

I will always be grateful to them.  They have given him so much.  Made him realise that he can be happy away from home and away from his family.  That he can make friends with other children.  Join in and play. He is a different child.  A joy. That painfully shy and fearful child is now a brave little boy who will now go up to kids and say hello.  Other children want to play with him. It is beautiful!

After our experience of the local nursery/Infant School, I turned down the place we got  for him to go there. Someone will be delighted to make use of his spot, as it is always oversubscribed.  But it is not the place for us.  Instead he will be attending a tiny rural Primary School in a beautiful little village.  The ethos of the school is similar to Freddy's nursery.  Older kids are encouraged to help and support the little ones in a nurturing and supportive environment.  The child comes first and this school offers an alternative to the busy schools with their intimidating playground footfall.  He is in an intake of just seven children.  I am no longer worried about him.  He is going to be OK.

So my son has grown.  He has turned a corner and become the child I always knew he could be, helped by some amazing people along the way.  But now I find myself without a young child at home for the first time in years.  With the prospect of being 'me' again.  That is hard to contemplate.  The last four years have focused so much on being Freddy's stay at home, full time mum.  Trying to find ways to make him happy and get him on track. Now I have achieved that, I wonder what I will do next.

In the past, I have reached this point in my life and made the decision to have another baby.  But I'm now 44.  I have five children.  I'm also a grandma.  I have to face the fact that their will be no more babies for me.  That part of my life is over.  The thing that has defined me for the last 25 years, from when I was just 19 years old is over.  It's time to make some big decisions.  It's time to think of myself which is scary.  I can't remember how to do that!  I've not had to do 'me' in a long time. This is unknown territory.

This blog has been my outlet for the last three years, but I know I have recently lost touch with the blogging community that I was once immersed in.  I have felt myself become more sidelined from the virtual friendships that I had developed.  I have withdrawn more from the personal side of blogging.  But it can be lonely sat at my laptop writing reviews and filtering through the hundreds of spam comments that I receive day in day out and feeling no connection to the real people out there.  I need to re-engage.  Britmums 2014 anyone??   I have also, yet again, self-sabotaged my weight loss and am now once more overweight and unfit!  I am just so predictable!!   I am guessing that this has all been down to the fact that I am actually pretty scared about where my life is going.  That I am going to start to have to do more for myself because it's just going to be me, myself and I, all day, every week day from September.  It is however an opportunity. I know that.  A chance to re-invent myself and find out who I am.  I'm pretty secure in my role as wife, mother, sister, daughter, auntie, I just need to figure out what it means to be Wendy.



  1. Jill Stan Jones12 July 2013 at 11:37

    Oh Wendy - what a thought provoking and brilliant blog - you are so right about Freddy, he has really changed from being a nervous little boy into a confident and happy one - It is a joy to be with him and I am sure that eventually he will settle down at school the same as he has at the nursery he attends. I can understand your comments about being home alone but, knowing you as I do, I know that you will somehow get on with your life and cope admirably. xxx

  2. Gosh truth bells ringing in my head for the last part. But first well done for being there for Freddy,he is marvellous and the credit goes to being surrounded by good family.

    I was a stay at home Mum full time. It suited me to be home always when they got home,had lots of snipes and frowns, but I always wanted to be the one who they saw at the end of the day.Its cost us financially,but not emotionally and happiness wise.

    The blogging part rings true, I was outgoing getting more involved but my new life has isolated me, I cannot talk about me much on the blog and I was starting to, as my life is wrapped up in another's and family members looking to pounce, so my blog is pretty impersonal. Plus one event in over a year as I cannot get the time off. So sitting at my laptop I feel on the outside looking in, new bloggers growing and attending BritMums I have still to attend. I so want to go, but feel I never will.

    Back to you though, one thing I see is Wendy, that most of all. Everything has made you, all the family, people, same as Freddie has grown with all the people around, so you have too. A beautiful woman and I see this as time to take stock,relax a bit before throwing yourself into another life choice, take stock a bit more, much like you have done here. Do not be pressured by what people perceive a woman with school children should do,go with what's right foryou, much as you did with Freddie's nursery

  3. I am so pleased to hear you are happy with Freddys school place at the smaller school I am sure it will be perfect for him. I know what you mean with the blogging I don't know if I feel that connected to it anymore, I keep thinking I have perhaps outgrown the whole parenting scene.. but when does that happen? your never NOT a parent are you, I was a very hands on attachment parent with mikey and it was very strange when he started school, everything changed everyone grew up, parenting small children now seems like a memory, breastfeeding, bed sharing, potty training, learning shapes, colours, numbers, first steps, days at school.. each thing hardly seems like it happened at all, so I don't feel like I fit in the parenting bloggers world which is so much more fun when all those things are there, I am still a mum, yet I know I don't do as much mum thinsg these days, mikey isn't that old tho, nor are the others, but it just seems like I am forever thinking no they are too old for that, and find myself at abit of a loss with what actually I should be doing. I have things which I think I want to do, I even write them down, then never get round to actually putting anything into action, I am torn with hundreds of things which fill the day that need to get done the hours pass to quickly and at the end of each day I still don't really feel like I have achieved anything I actually want to do. I guess because I just simply don't really truley know what that is... I hope you find what makes you happy and I will keep on trying to figure out that too. as for britmums 2014... if I haven't kicked it all in I might think about coming along lol

  4. I've noticed you've withdrawn lately too, and I miss reading about you and the children. I hope that you return to blogging personally, if it is right for you. However before September comes, enjoy the Summer with your gorgeous little chap. I think you've made the right decision for him, and I actually have put The Boy in the one school in my town (there are seven primaries) which is quiet and unassuming without being showy. I think he will benefit more from lower numbers, as will Freddy. Can you believe they're old enough for school?!

  5. It is hard to believe that our little ones are about to become school boys. I hope they will both love the next chapter of their lives. I definitely plan to enjoy every moment of the summer holidays and hopefully I'll find my mojo somewhere along the way! XXX

  6. The kids grow up so quickly and suddenly our role as a mum to our teeny tiny babies is over. It is hard to redefine ourselves. I was still giving Freddy night feeds until a few months ago...and now he is about to go to school. Crazy!! I hope you don't disappear from the blogging scene. I hope that both you and I find our way and work out what it is that we want to do and what will make us happy and fulfilled. If we're both still blogging...we should definitely make a date for Brtimums next year!! :)

  7. aww Wendy, I welled up reading that, you have been through so much & you were so right in what you did with Freddy. We are lucky that the preschool Jack attends is lovely, and very much hands on, he receives all the cuddles he wants (and it's a lot) & absolutely adores the staff & is always asking them when they are coming for a sleepover! He has a 'buddy' at school which seems to be a great system, not one child cried or clung on their recent 'all change' morning. I think I would hate him to go to a big Primary school ,he would be lost.
    After September, when our boys are settled, we must meet up again & maybe even share one of those long London Midland train journeys again! I definitely look forward to seeing you at Britmums in 2014!

  8. PS I can really see Megan in you in this pic x

  9. PPS I love reading the comments from your Mum/Dad! x

  10. Jo, thanks so much for your comment. It's never easy is it?! It was you that inspired me to start blogging as I was just so amazed by what you were doing! Your current situation and what you are doing now is so selfless and wonderful. I'm so sorry that it has isolated you though. I hope things get easier for you and that I get to see you at some more future events. Us 'oldies' (in terms of blog age, not our actual age - we are still in our prime!!) in the blogging world need to stick together! Thanks for your advice. I do feel pressure to suddenly make something of my life now Freddy is going to school, but I don't want to not be here for my kids when they get home. You're so right...I need to take stock and reflect on the changes and enjoy being me for a while. :)

  11. That's great that Jack is so happy. Fingers crossed that our boys enjoy going to their schools, and thank goodness they don't have to go to a big, old, impersonal primary school!
    I'd love to meet up again Helen. I need to embrace this new chapter in my life and get out and do stuff! I hope the new, re-invented me emerges soon and I stop being such a grump so I can come to Britmums next year and take advantage of free wine and being kidless in London! xxx

  12. This, this is wonderful Wendy. You've made wonderful decisions for all your Children and this next step is incredible. Your Sons and Daughters are a pleasure to be friends with and as are you and Ian, always so welcoming and a pleasure to spend time with. Now in this new chapter I'm sure there will be lots of wonderful changes but don't ever stop being who you are, because I think you're great! Have a good one. - Jake Williams (: xxx

  13. This is a beautiful post Wendy and what a mum you are. A real credit to you for realising that we can make changes and that is not a bad thing. Freddie is an amazing little boy and you are an amazing mum.

    I too have withdrawn a little. I do not like the things that are happening at the moment and my way of keeping my mouth shut is to step away!



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