Preparing for the school run

Posted Wednesday 3rd September 2014   By Ericka Waller

So I have one week left before school starts. One week to get the girls to fall asleep before 10pm, get up before 9am, wear both knickers and socks, not one or the other. I have one week to iron Thing-two’s school labels into her starchy clothes. One week to get my head around the fact she is even starting school. Today I watched her swimming. She floats on her back in the water like a lily, like a star, like she’s peacefully asleep.

Next week she’ll be stomping into school with a chunk of my heart tossed carelessly in her reading bag. She won’t feel me there with her, but like needle through thread, my life will be stitched with her absence.

One week to sort uniforms, school shoes, backpacks. One week to reintroduce a toothbrush and vitamins into the daily routine. I will miss the outfits my daughters chose for themselves when they are replaced by the generic banality of uniform. I will miss the dreadlocks in the back of their hair. Thing-three has had one of her plaits in for four weeks. I grab it when she runs away. What will I do now?

Go back to shrieking, shooing and scolding in the mornings. Filling the house with noise and negativity. A whirlwind of uselessness. How I hate the school run.

I’ve loved these lazy mornings in bed drinking tea and watching my children while they watch TV. I will stand in my empty house at 9.30am on Monday and I will cry for my babies, with nothing but housework to comfort me. They will come home, changed within mere hours. Words I do not use, someone else’s perfume lingering on them.

“Did you eat your lunch? Did you do a poo?”
“Can I have some Skips. Can I watch Scooby doo?”

My summer has been a bit of a car-crash, and they have been my recovery vehicle. Like a drug addict, I am selfishly scared of not getting my fix. I worry about walking into the playground on that first morning, of staying cool. Can’t let the girls see me cry. Can’t let a wobble creep into my voice when mums ask how I am, head tilted on the side, sympathy sliding down their faces, dripping onto me.

I am fully aware I am a wet lettuce who needs to get a life. I should be practicing the jaunty side-kick I should do as the school bell rings, and I am free. I should join the gym and go to Zumba classes, start my own, hugely successful online business from home and make organic wheat-free, gluten-free, cake-free cakes to hand out at pick-up, before driving the kids to a plethora of educational and fun after-school clubs.

But I won’t. I will drive us home and make us hot chocolate, into which we will dunk malted milks. I will cover us with the blanket on the sofa, stroke tiny hands and sweaty feet, and I will finally feel like me again.