Do you remember moaning as you rolled out of bed e.v.e.r.y. single Saturday morning to take your child to a ridiculously early sporting fixture? I’m talking pre-dawn bird chorus peoples. Once there, the chronic lack of parking and a million shiny, noisy excited kids milling around waiting for their game to start? Remember that there was always a cacophony of Cavoodles vying for attention, all the while festooned with idiotic ribbons in the colours of the team of the owner’s child. I do.
Remember the other bleary-eyed parents desperately hunting for a coffee van or the sausage sizzle? These sought out either to quell a hangover or shut up the younger sibling you’ve had to drag along and who will moan about being with you for the next 3 hours. I do.
Some parents were organized and would bring a thermos, a fold-up chair, the Saturday paper and a container of freshly baked muffins. Me? I’d be lucky if I’d remembered to put on my bra before stepping out the door.
Do you remember groaning as yet another invite came in from the P&F asking for money or worse, imploring you to attend the Annual Fair, the New Parents Cocktail Party, the Year Group Dinner, attend and donate an auction item to the End-Of-Year Dinner, make seventy-bazillion chicken sandwiches or go along to an exhibition of finger-painting by the Prep kids? I do.
If you are still at this stage of your child’s life I pity you the early mornings and encourage you to buy a thermos because, let me give you the tip, good coffee is almost impossible to find on the sidelines of any sporting field or arena. Consider salary sacrifice now to pay for all the school events that await you.
The truly weird thing though is I find I am feeling inexorably sad at not having to do it anymore.
Whilst I relish the sleep-in on a Saturday, I am genuinely missing the sideline company of other parents, who, over the past 13 years have become friends ~ some, good friends. In my son’s case, for over six years, 16 other parents and my husband and I made inestimable numbers of trips to a venue 60kms (each way) from our home to watch our boys compete. We became good at car-pooling. We also became friends. We cried together at our boys’ triumphs and again when they failed. We got to know each other and each other’s children well. Now that it’s all over, some of us will inevitably lose contact and whilst this is OK it still makes me a misery guts as I’ve treasured the times we’ve had together. It’s like a changing of the guard that I have no control over.
I put my glumness down to a few other things.
My son is only eight weeks from finishing his senior schooling. All sport has concluded as he knuckles down and prepares for his final HSC exams. My daughter is in Year 11 and due to an uncanny knack of constantly being able to dislocate her left knee; team sport is not a focus for her at the moment. She is also midway through exams and officially enters her HSC year soon. They are becoming more and more independent.
My son now drives himself to and fro school and to any extra or co-curricular event. He takes himself to the doctor when needed and buys his own clothes without my input. He has a girlfriend (who is lovely). I feel a slipping of his ‘need’ for me. It seems so silly that I should be sad, as everything we’ve done to this point is to get him to this very stage in his life. Just now though, it feels like I need both my ‘babies’ more than they need me.
Come the end of 2020 both will enter a shiny new world full of possibilities, promise and adventure and I need to focus on this whenever I feel maudlin. Deep down I know that they will always need me and that it will simply be a different need. I’m just not sure I’m quite ready to let the other go.
I must continue to remember that I am so proud of and genuinely excited for them both. I will also remind them (and myself) on December 5, 2020 that, as Albert Einstein so eloquently said, “Life isn’t about finding yourself; life is about creating yourself.”
Until next time…