Ok so it’s half term. There will be Mums at home who that really doesn’t mean anything to because they have not yet entered the term time routine, and this week is just the same as next week, and the week after, and the week after, and well, for lots of week afters.
And there will be Mums at home who are wondering what to do with their brood. Some may be feeling lost because they don’t really know what to do, the brood doesn’t like the same thing, or Mum is out of practice because it is so easy to get out of practice of knowing what to do when they are at school more weeks than they are at home. There will be those Mums that take it in all in their stride, full of wonderful ideas to entertain and challenge their brood. And there will be the work Mums, working out which clubs their brood can do, until what time, and what to do with them after, and some maybe then dealing with feelings they may have about actually wanting to be at home with their brood anyway and not at work.
So anyway, here in the West Midlands the sun is shining. Which is brilliant because there are so many things I can get up to outside with my four boys.
However they are not here. I am solo. My decision to stay at home with my 4 boys and not return to work was made many years ago, so I could be at home for my boys after school and in the holidays (and quite simply childcare for 4 children under the age of 2 would just be ridiculous, even for 4 children under the age of 3, or 4, or 5 – each year I always say to myself ‘I have 4 children under X’…. even now with 4 children under the age of 9, it still seems a bit silly… when will it sound ‘normal’ I wonder).
Anyway, after a bad few days in the Easter holidays when I said to my husband ‘Seriously I can not face 6 weeks of this madhouse in the summer’ (note, it was not said that clearly, in a rational way, as I am sure you can imagine), my boys were booked into a cricket camp for a week in the summer holidays.
They had been doing cricket at the ‘after school club’, and enjoyed it so we thought, well, let’s give it a go. And they LOVED it…. Not just a bit, but big time. So much so they did it the following week, and even the last day before school after the August Bank Holiday, when I asked ‘So what do you want to do today boys, for your last day? Shall we go swimming, to the local farm adventure place, the cinema?’ – my eldest pipes up … ‘Ooh can we do cricket please Mummy’. Ok right. I think what he was really saying was ‘Well thank you for all your time and efforts over the last 6 years Mummy, but quite frankly, those activities don’t quite cut the mustard anymore’. (Such a good phrase that one, where did that come from?).
So, whilst I was stood there in the kitchen (which is pretty much where I hang out, waiting for snack/drink demands, for the washing machine or tumble dryer to finish, whilst making various on-line purchases and ‘getting the tea on’), I was met with two emotions. One, ok, so my boys need, want and expect more than the activities I can provide now. They are boys after all. They need to be out and about all day, running, playing and needing more than the hour in the park which is enough for me before I want to come home, have a cup of tea and look at Facebook. Secondly, I looked at them and felt proud. Proud that I have brought up 4 boys who want to do something like that. Boys who want to go out and play sport, to learn new skills, to interact with other children, and not want to sit in all day playing on tablets and computers (which over the last few years has been a big concern). I have boys that need some male mentors in their lives to show them right from wrong (because most of the time they just look at me and my husband like we are a pair of idots). And well, cricket camp ticks all those boxes. Yes I am lucky that I have 4 boys, who want to go together, who take confidence from being together, and generally have a pack mentality (like dogs), and I am proud of them. So, well, why would I say no?
So now we are at half term. And it has happened again. Ooh can we do cricket Mummy. Yes. And here I am once again battling the emotions. I feel guilty. Guilty because there are other children out there having wonderful times with their Mummy, enjoying the autumn sunshine, having day trips, meeting up with friends. And mine are elsewhere. Part of me feels sad because I miss them, and I know that the more holidays they do things like this, the less time I will get back with them, and well, then that time has gone. But I have to tell myself they are getting older. They need more, expect more. When I was younger, myself and my sister were quite happy tootling around the house playing games, watching the Sound of Music fifty times a day and popping to the shops with Mum. But these boys need more. And I want them to have more. And I suppose I am starting to recognise that that ‘more’ can no longer come from just me.
And another part of me feels relieved. Relieved because I don’t have to entertain them, because sometimes that is hard. Relieved that I do not have to take them to the park and stay longer than I want to, looking at them working out how many pairs of trousers I am going to have to wash when we get in, and praying there is no dog dirt on their boots. And as I say, after more weeks at school than being at home, I am slightly out of practice. So I feel relieved. And then of course I then beat myself up for feeling relieved and there is the associated guilt that comes with feeling relieved.
And another part of me again is so proud. Proud that they are growing in independence, in confidence and actually want to go out and do something like this.
So I decide that when they come home, I will be refreshed after having had time to myself and I will be able to give them my all, my attention. However the reality is, they come in, after yet another great day at cricket camp, and instantly want to go out and play football with their friends in our estate.
Ok. Well I suppose they are happy, which is my main aim in this life. So, I will just be in the kitchen, getting the tea on, if anyone needs me.