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Three children (17, 15, 13)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

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“OK, this seems fine. Where do I sign?”

“You don’t. I’m over 16.”

Oh. What? Really? That’s different. Notes from school usually have a “please sign” section, and a regular “hand over your money“. This one is about a medical trial. Slightly more important than most, and I don’t have to sign?

I catch my breath and look out at the garden. I need a moment to process this.

I find my eyes hopping from one area to another in the garden. The autumn raspberries are ready for picking and the pumpkins are swelling nicely. I planted them too late, but they should still make a good size for carving in October. The windfall apples are littering the ground under the trees, taunting me to make apple pies. I see the oak tree starting to glow as leaves turn gold. Just in patches at the moment, but soon it will cover the tree and be the first thing to grab my eye when I glance out. It’s autumn in a few days.

Yes, the world is striding on as usual. I can sense the rhythm of the year, as the season changes. Yet, there is a series of different notes being played. Every now and again. They catch my attention. Each time. Touching a nerve and bringing me up short. It’s different.

The children have been back at school for over two weeks now. This term was always going to feel like a jolt, with two of the three children entering new eras. One starting secondary school and the other 6th form. It’s a bigger jump than we’ve experienced before.

I looked back at a post I wrote a few years ago about the start of our day when they were all still at primary school. I had packed lunches and four long, French plaits to braid, as well as breakfasts, uniforms and bags to organize, before we all erupted out of the door. It was a juggling act, that was fine tuned over the years.

Now there is no school run for me. All of that routine has evaporated.

Not totally true to say it’s all gone. More accurately, the need for me to do it has gone. Oh, and the French plaits. I strangely miss them the most.

I still wake the children up and fuss over whether they’ve had anything for breakfast, while I sip my coffee. I act as referee, if one child winds up another, and also as a slightly, redundant memory jogger limping along. Echoing the past, but at the end of its useful life. Have they got their homework, planner, pencil case, etc? My voice fading away against the bustle of their routine.

This week, I even acted as a subject for a science test as part of a homework, while munching my morning toast. Short term memory. Not the best time, being tested in a busy kitchen as four individuals get ready for the day and an over large puppy does his best to entice them to stay. With the added irony of me burning the next round of toast.

Then they’ve gone. Leaving me to clear away the breakfast things and calm down the pup.

I feel like I’ve entered a new stage of parenting. Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not sad. I’m mighty glad I can see it. I want to mark it in my memory as part of my parenting journey, as these three amazing beings sweep past another milestone.

When I look back, it has been creeping up for a while. In patches, like the oak tree’s leaves. Eventually it too will be more part of them than not. In the last few weeks, the children’s independence has been highlighted more often. They still need me, but in a different way. I listen to them and advice where I can, but like the note from school, they no longer need my signature.

Debs Random Writings

Joining in with my #wotw “different”. What would your word of the week be?

After The Playground

26 Responses to Different

  • Carol says:

    Oh my, life goes on and children grow up. It passes so quickly sometimes I try to catch “life” with my hands and hold on. Lovely post.

  • Anne says:

    It is all so different, and sometimes you don’t even realise it’s happened. I remember the shock of no longer bathing my older children as they did it by themselves, it’s little things like this that suddenly hit you. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, you just have to ride it along. x

  • I can’t even imagine this stage, yet I know that I will be there before I know it, looking back on the primary school runs and wondering where that time went. It sounds like you’re all moving with the changes x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  • Louisa says:

    It is bittersweet to reach this different stage of childrearing. I have found that they still need us just as much but in entirely different ways which has bought new and interesting challenges to us.

  • Kim Carberry says:

    I totally get this. My youngest has started year 7 and my teen year 11. I have no school run in a morning and I am finding it so strange.
    I still wake my girls up too and jog them along but that’s about it. I never thought I would but I sometimes do miss the school run. x #WotW

    • Craft Mother says:

      I miss the exercise and bumping into friends on the school run, but that’s probably it. Enjoying not being so tied to the time. Quite liberating after all these years.

  • Awww I know what you mean. Parenting feels like it is constantly changing slowly. All you can do is be there. Loving autumn mind, how beautiful it is to see the changes in nature X #wotw

  • Helena says:

    It seems like every part of enabling them to grow their wings can be hard for us. I’m reminded of Abba’s music ‘Slipping through my fingers’.#keepingitreal

  • I always find this time of year is the one time where the changes in parenting and routines and the passing of time becomes most noticeable. I can imagine that it must be quite bittersweet to reflect on the change in routine in the school run and the way you no longer need to do things that you once needed to do for your children. As you say though, they still need you but just in a different way now. #WotW

    • Craft Mother says:

      Strangely, apart from no more French plaits, I’m quite happy with the change of routine. Primary was 12 years for us, with childminding before, so I’m good and ready for a change. You are right about September being the month to spot the changes. So true.

  • I promise that no matter how mad and busy my mornings with my son is, I will try to enjoy it because there will come a time that it will stop. This is such a bittersweet read.


  • Debbie says:

    Hi Cheryl, what a lovely post. times passes, things change, we reflect, it’s nice and natural. I am enjoying no longer being the Mum of children at school. The last two years were hard and I felt like I never stopped running around, now I am loving having grown up children. I’m happy to be there when needed, but it’s time my daughter spread her wings and learned just how high she can fly… Without the use of substances!

    Thank you for sharing with #keepingitreal


    • Craft Mother says:

      I think each stage is good in its own way. I’m certainly happy to move on to the next stage, as they are more than ready. You had me worried at the end of your comment, but I see what you mean! I hope she does find out how high she can fly. 😀

  • Oh Cheryl you have captured that feeling of nostalgia that we all experience as mothers as our children start to grow up and spread their wings so well, as well as the one that hints at a fear of redundancy as a mother too. It is an exciting time but there is no denying that it is hard to let go of the past sometimes. I love the way you have tied it in with the changing of the seasons. Beautifully written. Thanks so much for joining us and wishing you lots of joy on the next part of your journey. Do keep us posted. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Craft Mother says:

      Jo, thank you for a lovely comment. I think you have to enjoy every moment and every stage. I know it’s a cliché, but it really does go fast. I want to make sure I record and commit to memory all the triumphs and turning points. Parenthood. It is quite a journey.

  • This was very beautiful to read Cheryl. I even had to take a breath when you said ‘no signature required’. Gosh these things just thrust themselves upon us don’t they. Be still our emotions! A beautiful capture of a very poignant time. Thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

  • Sharon Parry says:

    Oh my God what a wonderful metaphor that is Cheryl….they no longer need my signature. This is such a lovely post and sums up this stage of parenting beautifully. I have one in uni, one in 6th form and one in Year 8. I have to say that whilst the older two no longer need my signature they do still like me to read the small print – long may that continue! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

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