Honest Motherhood: A world away from the kitchen table

Children playing
Picture: Esi Grünhagen from Pixabay

Well, the time has come. The moment every weary-eyed parent has been waiting for:  the long-awaited return to school. Hallelujah.

I had mixed feelings when they announced March 8. Was it too soon? Will it really be that much safer by then? On the one hand, I couldn’t wait. But I also worried about the consequences of millions of children returning to schools across the country.

The concern didn’t last long. Maia soon got into a state about her English work and I quickly remembered why this whole thing was such a nightmare.

Cries of “I CAN’T DO IT MUMMY”, a spot of bargaining: “If I brush my teeth can we do this lesson later?” and my favourite, the old, “That’s not how we do it in school”. 

Well no, of course it’s not, in case you’d forgotten, YOU’RE NOT IN SCHOOL MY DEAR. I would yell to myself in silence.

It hasn’t all been hideous. For the most part, I count myself incredibly lucky my daughter would actually sit down and simply get on with her work. She rarely kicked up a fuss, and in-between lessons would often play with her baby brother, which was always helpful.

Maia has been brilliant, to say the least.

Back to school means no more school-work related guilt. I can finally let go of this weird obsession with her handwriting. (Her teacher set “try to write in cursive” as one of her targets and it sent us both up the wall.)

I can stop getting so frustrated at both myself and her every time she doesn’t understand something.

Now, there will most likely be a handful of other children that don’t understand that thing, and she won’t feel so alone.

There is a feeling of melancholy hanging over Monday morning. I’ll miss her. And not just because she often watches Leo while I’m in the shower. She’s my buddy. We developed little traditions, like walking to the supermarket and each choosing treats from the bakery, then eating them on the walk home.

Every weekend I’d buy her a Cadbury’chocolate treasure chest as a well done for all her hard work that week. (This will likely continue all year). And then there’s lunchtime, where the four of us would sit together and Joel would give Maia one of his crisps. (She’s not really allowed crisps, hence the single-crisp allowance. That and we can be stingy when sharing).

All of these traditions are food-based. Lockdown has seen me lean more towards instant-gratification.

When asked if she was worried about going back to school Maia replied quietly: “I’m just really used to homeschooling now..”. We all are. We’re used to the pace of things and not having to rush around.

This is nothing when you look at what she gains: Her education, her friendships and a life and world away from the kitchen table.

“I hate the Coronavirus, I miss going out, I miss my friends,” she said, in tears one afternoon.

“I know, me too, but you’ll be back to school soon and you’ll see all your friends and everything will slowly go back to normal,” I replied, as much for my own reassurance as hers.  “You’re doing amazing, it’s not easy being at home all the time.”

We’ve gotten so used to homeschooling that we fail to recognise what a triumph it actually is.

Completely exhausted with the monotony of the whole routine, frazzled by the intensity, we forget to commend ourselves for our ridiculously hard work in an uncertain time.

For Maia, going back to school marks the first step on a road toward normality.  I’m happy for her. And me.

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