Starting (and back to) school

???????????????????????????????Separation anxiety. It’s a killer. And not particularly pleasant for the children either…

The twins have started at nursery, for three mornings a week. They don’t actually NEED to, as I’m still at home (more on that anon), but we thought it would help to have regular contact with other children, especially because of The Twin Thing, as at the moment they’re just copying each other, plus it gives me a precious four hours off, when I can do exciting things like tidying and batch cooking.

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It’s a wonderful nursery that just feels squidgy and homely. Most of the helpers are Mums too, which I think makes such a difference. My only objection is that they invite everyone in for hot dogs on Fathers’ Day whereas it’s just tea on Mothers’ Day…

But oh my goodness it’s traumatic. I have to get the girls up half an hour earlier, so that makes them cry. Then get them both dressed, whereas usually they have breakfast in their pyjamas, so that makes them cry. Then we have to do hair and put shoes on, which makes them cry. Then push them twenty minutes up a 1:3 hill, which makes me cry. Then take one in whilst leaving one in the buggy, which makes them both cry. Then leave one on the floor, to fetch the other, which makes them both cry. Then take their coats off and kiss them goodbye, which makes them cry. Then walk out the door to the sound of them crying, which makes me cry.

You get the picture!

They are little tinkers though. Because when I go back to collect them at lunch, I spy on them through the window and they’re both playing very happily. And then when I walk through the door, they clock me, and start crying, in a blatant attempt at guilt tripping me. So I will be strong and ignore the manipulative minxes! It is all giving me the faint chill of dread though. Because these rushed and anxious mornings…well, that’s it for the next 18 years isn’t it! It’s not exactly as if it was ever a complete joy getting Joe out of bed and off to do his A Levels! Sorry Joe…

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Crying aside though, they seem to be loving nursery. Charlotte always wants to be with me, whereas Romilly wants to BE me. She just loves doing anything she sees Mummy doing. A lot of cleaning is happening. In fact she now deliberately spills things so she can ask for a wipe. Her favourite toy at nursery is an old handbag, which she slings over her shoulder and shuffles around with. Apparently at lunch the other day she handed out everyone’s bibs, and cutlery. She then tried to cut up her (bigger) friend’s food for her. And then held everyone’s beakers for them to make sure they were drinking enough. In fact she was so busy fussing over everyone else she didn’t actually eat anything herself! Charlotte on the other hand, well, I will let her diary speak for her: “I ate ¼ of my roast turkey dinner but ALL of my seasonal crumble and custard.”

On which note Romilly is still sticking religiously to her 25th centile; Charlotte has jumped from the 50th to the 65th. This is mostly pudding. Romilly will eat practically anything savoury; Charlotte is sweetness embodied. They can eat a full meal as a unit, just not individually!

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But they are cream crackered after nursery. Apparently four hours of art, music and choosing which exciting new toy to play with is EXHAUSTING. I’ve had to reintroduce their afternoon nap. They’re going to bed half an hour earlier. And they’re still tired two days later. I have tried explaining to them that this is NOTHING and just wait until they have an essay crisis, but that didn’t seem to sink in.

And then there’s me. Those precious ‘free’ hours have given me not just time to get on with chores, but also the head space to think about trivia like, oo, the rest of my life.

The obvious choice would be to go back into advertising or marketing. But – call me a snob – the Manchester scene just isn’t London. It would feel a bit of a sideways/backwards move. And Jon’s kinda got the nicest marketing job in our hood! Plus it’s a young person’s game isn’t it. I don’t know what happens to people over 40 in advertising. I think there’s some back room they all get shunted into. And then there’s the hours, and the travel. It used to kill me leaving Joe all the time, and I don’t want to do that again.

I do wonder whether if they’d sat me down at school and explained properly about careers, and the importance, especially as a woman, of training in something and acquiring qualifications and skills that a) were portable, so that you can work wherever your family is b) could survive a career break for kids c) would mean you could have hours that would fit with family life d) would let you work right up to retirement…would I have listened? I have been thinking how much easier it would have been if I were a GP or a lawyer. Yes, I’ve had two decades of a brilliant career, that’s been financially very rewarding, but now I’m a bit stuck.

And then I remembered a conversation a while ago, when we were discussing what we’d do if we won the lottery, and I said I’d do an OU Psychology degree, because I’ve always been fascinated by it. In a way, a lot of the literary criticism I did in English was about the psychology of characters and in marketing, well, it was about understanding people, their wants and needs and behaviour.

Now, I’ve not won the lottery. But the living costs are low enough here that we can afford for me not to work. I think that would be dangerous – I can already feel my brain mushing and (whisper this) sometimes making playdough spiders is just a bit boring. Plus I need to know, and be proud of, who I am. I have been writing, yes, and will continue to do so, but it’s another solitary pursuit, and one of the things this break has taught me is that I am a social animal.

So, putting that altogether, I have a meeting at our local Uni next week to discuss doing an MSc conversion in Psycology. I’d then do work experience for a couple of years before, hopefully, being accepted onto a clinical doctorate. It’s a big commitment, because I’ll be in my mid 40s before I can start practising. But the theory is it’ll give me a trade I can use right up to retirement. It’s portable, so I can work wherever Jon is. It gives me financial independence and a massive esteem injection. Plus I get to be ‘Doctor Mummy’…

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????And that’s an important point. I want the girls to see their mother work. To know that they can do whatever they put their mind to. To understand the importance of gaining skills. Of financial independence. The reward of helping others. And that you can have different careers throughout your life.

My Grandpa was an amazing doctor. He made such a difference to so many lives. I always felt guilty that all I was doing was peddling Stella and Quality Street to people who already had a bit too much of both. I was so proud of him, and I’d love the girls, and Jon, and Joe to be proud of me. And for me to be proud of me.

Obviously the real reason behind all this is that I will be able to out-certificate Jon in our Downstairs Toilet of Achievement. Beat that, Grade 5 Trumpet.

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