I have to confess that the first day back to school after any holiday always leaves me feeling a little melancholy and it is with sad smile that I wave the girls into class. Today has been no different. I feel heartbroken.
It isn’t as if we have been away for an exotic week of luxury. For once, we have had a true ‘staycation’, with Dan taking time off from work for a week at home. We feared that at the end of this week we might feel dissatisfied, as if it wasn’t a real holiday. Our track record for staying at home when off work is non-existent – we usually panic at the thought and book something last minute! So I have to say, we have both been pleasantly surprised by what a lovely break it has been: rather than it feeling like it was over before it began, the days have been languorous and the week beautifully long.
As always, I am disappointed that our lazy days together have come to an end and bewilderingly, I miss the maddening chatter of three garrulous girls.
This time, the feeling of regret as the holidays have ended is especially intense. During the holidays, F’s place at school was confirmed. This term is the beginning of the end of our pre-school era. It is also only 3 sleeps until H’s 7th birthday and her last term in Key Stage 1. We are marching towards a different phase and it terrifies me how quickly time is passing. I know it is a cliché, but I really do wish I could just press pause, just for a while. Time to hold them a bit more, to look at them a bit more, to know every freckle, to feel how much they need me. Blimey, I would even wish for more days role playing mums and dads.
After any holiday, we always reflect that our favourite times, are those when it’s just the five of us. I often think that we would be quite happy in splendid rural isolation with just the views for company. We are self-sufficient. A unit complete. Together, we are exactly and completely ourselves and loved unconditionally.
I admit that the sadness I feel at the end of holidays is not all to do with missing Dan and the girls and time with them. The last day of any holiday for me is always tinged with a gnawing uneasiness about the return to reality. Back to a place where I do not always feel completely myself and where I am not always loved without question.
I hate the end of holidays because having temporarily shaken the shackles of expectation (put on by myself and others), I dread feeling the weight of them again. I hate the thought of picking up with shame those things I promised to complete before the holiday and did not. I don’t want to go back to fighting my losing battle with time – never quite getting everything done or only doing half a job. Above all else, being back in the real world means that where there has been calm, peace and acceptance, there will again be a relentless turning over of thoughts and words and worries. I will be back to batting away self-doubt, querying what people think of me, forcing myself through the week not being quite in the right place, not quite doing the right thing, wondering where my joy and my sense of purpose is….
But if you think about it, it’s not the return to the real world that is causing me distress. It’s because I don’t have the control over my own thoughts and words that I need. I am not anxious because I have to return to a back breaking job, or even 3 jobs held down just to make ends meet. I am not returning to bills I cannot meet, or to a life lived on the breadline. I am not returning to abusive relationships. My life is a good life. I live in a beautiful part of the world, with plenty of comforts. I have the love of a wonderful husband, a supportive family and amazing friends. I really have no need to feel uncomfortable. I ought to celebrate the halcyon days we have just enjoyed, sad that they are over but able to celebrate a return to the ordinary and the blessed life we have, looking forward to forging new memories as we move through another term of growth.
So it’s back to school for me too. This day of self-pity another lesson in how far I have to go to be the person I know I can be. So rather than spending another day wallowing, I will wake up more purposeful tomorrow. This is a renewed promise to get myself into better habits of gratitude and positivity. I have 6 weeks to practice such that the beginning of the new half term in June will see me cheerleading in the first school day and cartwheeling into the school gates – though perhaps after a week in a tent in Norfolk I would have been doing this anyway!
ps. thank you to Pinterest for the images