Maybe that’s not the cool thing to say.
And while I type this, I hear the lady shopkeeper down the road rolling her eyeballs like marbles in a cup as she says once again, her tone more urgent as time wears on, serving another cheery mum, scanning her celebratory caramel digestives which she can now enjoy with a cup of tea which will now be the in “vaguely warm” category. “Why have children if you don’t want to see them?”
Looking forward to school isn’t about doing a somersault in the car park after drop off at the thought of not seeing your kids, with an added “BOOM!” for dramatic effect, it’s about space.
Every single day I drop Bean off to school, the second his fingertips leave mine, the moment my tiny shadow breaks apart from me to whirlwind around the playground with his friends, or worse, to head into the classroom for another six hours, I feel bereft. I feel lost. I miss him the nanosecond he’s gone from our safe little world together into his big bright exciting world of his classroom.
I have all the admiration in the world for people who can regiment their families in the summer holidays, can get the house cleaned, jobs done, themselves and their kids dressed and out the door for some fabulous adventure by 9am – but I can’t do that. Depression doesn’t work very well with free and easy and “Well let’s just see where today takes us.” Free and easy translates to “Can I go back to bed yet, please?” It generally doesn’t take too well to getting dressed even if I’m not planning on leaving the house today, thank you very much Mr Postman as you eye my Ninja Turtle pyjamas with glaring disdain.
Let’s be blunt, depression doesn’t really work with anything, apart from I MUST be at THIS location tomorrow at THIS time and if I’m not I’ll have to explain why I wasn’t and deal with it, which will highly likely involve talking on the phone. (Depression hates talking on the phone and will do almost anything to avoid such grave consequences).
Dealing with the aftermath of a breakdown and the summer holidays at the same time makes me feel like a terrible parent. Too much yellow food, no routine, pyjama days that turn into weeks, a daily showing of The Return of the Jedi and a very sad summer holiday scrapbook that consists of one, somewhat desperate entry of “Erm… We went to the ZOO?!” You can give me 100 Fun Free Things To Do in the Holidays and I’ll do ‘em all day long, but it’s just not the same.
School makes me feel like a kind of, passably better mum.
I get up before noon, I get myself and Bean dressed, I shove something vaguely healthy in his face for breakfast and with his obligatory book bag, lunchbag, PE bag and suchlike – we walk to school (casually or breaking a sweat, losing-all-dignity-jogging depending on timings).
And while I see his untameable blond mane disappearing in a sea Frozen rucksacks and red sweatshirts, I feel sad, but also I feel I have done A Good Thing. Something positive. Something positive for my family. Something that works. A routine that sticks and isn’t inspired by a Pinterest board in a 3am binge of madness.
So, it might not be cool to say I’m looking forward to school starting again.
But I totally am.