A Fine Little Fellow

There’s very little I can say about Anna’s post today. I admired Anna as a parent long before I really got to know her, I saw snippets of her relationship with George on her blog and her twitter feed and hoped that one day I would be as imaginative, funny, caring and oh-so-slightly crazy a parent to Stella as Anna is to Georgeous.

Anna writes hauntingly about today; this huge, epic day of adventuring and new beginnings and loss and love. It reinforces that which I’ve always thought about Anna and her boy - from the very beginning they were meant for one another.

Hey team, I need you today.

 

 I need your good sense in the comments and some cake. Please.

 

As this is posted up I will be walking George to school for the first time and I will be trying so hard not to cry until he’s gone all the way in and I’m safely away from the mums I don’t know yet.

 

 I know. Who am I? My 18 year old self would be utterly mortified.

 

Until he was trying on very serious school shoes in Clarks, I had no idea it was going to feel like this: as if a big system is swallowing him up. I am releasing this little person I have nurtured out into the wild. Into a world I know to be imperfect. This is his first tiny step without me and with it comes the knowledge that there will be many more. The most selfish part is that I’m not even worried about him that much. He’s clever, kind and funny, and anything that happens at school we can help him with and make sure he feels safe and loved at home.  I already pledged to always have enough food in the house for as many friends as will fit in his room when we got the ‘it’s a boy’ scan results so I’m all set on the practicalities of having a boy at school (!). It’s me I’m worried about.

George took this photo. Which further proves my theory that being able to take a decent photograph is a skill you're born with.

 

They let us leave the hospital with a tiny baby five years ago without knowing anything about us. No-one checked if we had a clue about what we were doing. Just as I feel like I’ve got this gig totally under control; they’re deciding they better just check we do know what we’re doing after all and they’re claiming him back. I know that AOW is a place I can be completely honest and I have to say it feels a little like being punished.

 

Now someone else gets all the best middle of the day time and I get the mad rush to get ready in the morning and a very tired boy at the end of a school day. I’ve half a mind to stamp my foot and declare ‘it’s not fair’ but I know George is watching me. That is why I will not show signs of upset until he is safely inside with his new teacher and classmates. I must let him go. Small steps at a time until the day he realises that I‘m not actually a superhero or a Michelin starred chef, that the sheet I put over the table wasn’t actually a rocket ship and that, devastatingly, I’m not a pirate or an intrepid explorer at all. That I’m just a woman trying not to make the mistakes her parents did but inevitably making my own ones.

 

It seems this is a big landmark in parenting. This is the point where you take a step back and let others take a big role in your child’s life. It’s also the point in time I’ve referenced since he was a tiny baby as that magical moment I would have my shit together. Ha. I think this is the source of the breakdown over school. That time is here and I haven’t. Since I started writing this post a few days ago, I’ve kept coming back to it and I’m starting to feel better about it all. One of the big things I’m struggling with is the feeling that the role of ‘Stay at Home Mum’ somehow diminishes when the child(ren) start school (I’m not saying it does but not much is telling me it doesn’t and that’s scary). I really need to get my head round this and adjust my mindset so I feel more comfortable with it. I also need some projects. #alltheprojects

 

As if all of that’s not enough; I have to be on time twice a day, every day for the rest of time.

 

“Good parents give their children roots and wings.”

 

-Jonas Salk

 

One of my biggest concerns in raising George is that he’s been born into a world that moves so fast. Everything seems to happen so much quicker for them. They are a generation of children who, at just four, sigh at a slow Internet connection. The more he is at school and with new friends; the more he will be exposed to all of this in new ways.  I hope that in this fast paced world that tells you to buy more, want more, and be more, that I can be successful in showing him the true pleasure and joy in the simple things. I hope when other kids teach him about video games, characters and toys I’ve never heard of that he can come home and appreciate what he has rather than crave things he has not.

 

Many people reference the letter below to Abraham Lincoln, they say he wrote it to his son’s teacher but it hasn’t actually been verified as his. Regardless, it says all I want to say and far more eloquently:

 

“My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. It is an adventure that might take him across continents. All adventures that probably include wars, tragedy and sorrow. To live this life will require faith, love and courage. 

 

 

 

So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know, teaching him – but gently, if you can. 

 

He will have to learn, I know,

 

that all men are not just,

 

that all men are not true.

 

But teach him also that

 

for every scoundrel there is a hero;

 

that for every selfish Politician,

 

there is a dedicated leader…

 

Teach him for every enemy 

 

there is a friend,

 

 

 

It will take time, I know;

 

But teach him, if you can,

 

That a dollar earned…

 

Is far more valuable than five found.

 

Teach him to learn to lose gracefully

 

And also to enjoy winning

 

when he does win.

 

 

 

Steer him away from envy,

 

if you can,

 

Teach him the secret of

 

quiet laughter.

 

 

 

Let him learn early that

 

the bullies are the easiest to lick…

 

Teach him, if you can,

 

the wonder of books…

 

But also give him

 

quiet time to ponder

 

over the eternal mystery

 

of birds in the sky,

 

bees in the sun,

 

and flowers on a green hillside.

 

 

 

In the school teach him

 

it is far honourable to fail

 

than to cheat…

 

Teach him to have faith

 

in his own ideas,

 

even if everyone tells him

 

they are wrong…

 

Teach him to be gentle

 

with gentle people,

 

and tough with the tough.

 

 

 

Try to give my son the strength

 

not to follow the crowd

 

when everyone is getting on the band wagon…

 

Teach him to listen

 

to all men…but

 

teach him also to filter

 

all he hears

 

on a screen of truth,

 

and take only the good

 

that comes through.

 

 

 

Teach him if you can,

 

how to laugh when he is sad…

 

Teach him there is no shame in tears,

 

Teach him to scoff at cynics

 

and to beware of too much sweetness…

 

Teach him to sell his brawn

 

and brain to the highest bidders

 

but never to put a price-tag

 

on his heart and soul.

 

 

 

Teach him to close his ears

 

to a howling mob

 

and to stand and fight

 

if he thinks he’s right.

 

Treat him gently,

 

but do not cuddle him,

 

because only the test

 

of fire makes fine steel.

 

 

 

Let him have the courage

 

to be impatient…

 

let him have the patience to be brave.

 

Teach him always

 

to have sublime faith in himself,

 

because then he will have

 

sublime faith in mankind.

 

 

 

This is a big order,

 

but see what you can do…

 

He is such a fine little fellow,

 

my son!”

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Becoming a Mother
28 interesting thoughts on this

28 Comments

  1. Carly
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Anna,

    You are wonderful. I’m sending you lots of love & luck today on such a huge milestone. I’ve been comforting parents for the last two mornings & I welcome another 6 into my class today so I’m going to bear all of this in mind. I’m also printing out that poem and pinning it above my desk.

    Huge hugs and cake XxX

    • Becca
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      I want you to teach my imaginary non existent children. Or someone else that has that poem on their door on the first day.

  2. Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    The things you do with George remind me a lot of how my mum was with us when we were little, and she was an awesome mum! Although I also think you have your shit together more than she did.
    Don’t feel guilty for your sense of loss, and loss of control – I’m sure that must be normal and all the other mums will be exactly the same today.
    Just look forward to him coming home excited by new friends and subjects and bring able to share that with him.
    Xxxx

  3. Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Hugging my small boy tight and having a small tear at this!

    You are wonderful Anna, and George will be wonderful too – you have nurtured him in to an amazing little human being. Lots of love xxx

  4. rachel JHD
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    All love for today, & really don’t worry about showing your tears. Secondly enjoy being able to sit leisurely on the loo when you want. Thirdly well done on these five years & here’s to the next five x

  5. Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna, I’m sending hugs and scrabbling for cake too. Stupid cake free house. You have so much love for George and such a wonderful way with him, from what you’ve posted on your blog/twitter/instagram that I have utter faith in you and him.

    I wrote a lot more but it seemed really patronising and seriously, you are so much better than me writing a bunch of platitudes. I am off today though if you need to get distracted. You are great. George is great.

  6. Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Big hugs, Anna!

    Don’t pressure yourself to do or feel anything. it’s perfectly acceptable to go home and spend the day crying under the duvet! And, yes, you’ll get a tired boy but you’ll also get a boy who spends the day thinking “I can’t wait to tell mum about this!”, who will draw odd looking pictures of you in his work book and write out funny stories in his best handwriting that you’ll keep forever.

    And now George will get to know the fun of a weekend!

  7. Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I have only just begun to grasp just how all-consuming maternal love is. I’m also discovering that this is a love that appears to intensify every day. It’s terrifying. So I can’t even begin to imagine how you must be feeling today. Or rather I can, but I imagine it’s only a corner of what you’re feeling, and even that tiny little piece blows my mind. All I can say is that if I can be even half as good a mum to my little boy as you are to yours, I will have no problems ticking everything off the list in that poem. Everything George learns and sees at school and through his whole life will be set in the context of the world of love and imagination you have set him up in. That’s permanent.

    I hope it goes well today, and gets progressively easier with each day that goes by. In the meantime, HAVE CAKE. And tea. And flowers.

    Px

  8. Caroline
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Oh Anna this has brought a tear to my eye this morning.
    From what I see from Instagram and Twitter George is the luckiest boy in the world. You seem like the most fun mum and George is awesome.
    I only hope when the time comes I will be able to do as good a job as you.
    The only thing I can say to try and make things a little better is that the quality time you get at the weekends will bring you so much joy. And just think of all the tales he will have to tell you about his adventures.
    Good luck today – I hope you get through it! And good luck to George!
    Ps eat cake – always helps in a crisis!

  9. Elsie
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    You deserve cake today, so my advice is after George goes into school & you leave him don’t go home right away, treat yourself to tea and cake or breakfast out armed with a book or magazine. It’s not the greatest advice ever, it won’t take away any negative feelings you have but it isn’t going to make you feel any worse. Some days call for indulgence and today is one of them. Good luck to you & George, I hope there’s lots of smiles come home time.

  10. Katielase
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Anna, Anna, Anna, I love you so.

    This is actually the bit of parenthood that I’m most worried about, developing the ability to let go. All I can say is, you are a wonderful parent to George, and he loves you, his wonderful Mum. He’s going to be so excited to tell you all his adventures, to come home and share them with you. You’ve built this relationship where he knows you will stand by and support him, and give him wings and let him fly off to achieve all the incredible things I’m sure he will achieve. He’s such an awesome little man, Anna. You should be so so proud of him, and of you and S for bringing him up this far. Now he’s ready and excited for the next step and that’s down to you too. You’ve been so brilliant while you’ve done all this that he’s going to WANT to carry on sharing with you.

    All that said, today will be hard. This is a big deal, for both of you, so please just don’t expect anything of yourself. Be kind to yourself, don’t tell yourself you should have your shit together today, but simply do whatever YOU want, whatever will make this huge change easier to manage for you. Once you’ve waved him off, today is your day. Huge hugs, my lovely.

    And, for what it’s worth, you will never, not EVER, be just a stay-at-home Mum. You will never be JUST anything.

    KL xx

  11. Posted September 11, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you all so much- I didn’t dare read this before we left. I’m back home now, he went in so well just a big kiss and he ran in. Thank you all for being so lovely, I thought it would help to share on here and it absolutely has so thank you xxxx

  12. Posted September 11, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Ah, Anna, this just confirms what a wonderful mother you are. For all those things that he work out you aren’t, for all the flaws he’ll realise you have, you’ll still be his mother – and mothers are the best hero’s of them all.

    As Katie says, be kind to yourself today.

  13. deltafoxtrotcharlie
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    So glad it went well hon, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and a little cry.

    And remember – having one’s shit together is overrated :)

    • Yanthé
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      ‘having one’s shit together is overrated’ YES – this is my new favourite saying.

      • Posted September 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        I’m going to have this made into a poster!

  14. Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Anna this is the most beautiful post, it made me tear up when I was reading it this morning getting ready for work. You are such an amazing mum, I absolutely loved meeting George and he is such a credit to you and his dad. I can’t begin to imagine what today feels like for you, just think of all the things he can’t wait to get home and tell you about the world and the new friends he has made. Sending you virtual hugs, chocolate and love xxx

    ps how much am I loving all those Glasgow pics?! When you coming back for another visit?

  15. Alison
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I read this while my beautiful six-month-old boy was napping and it made me tear up. Such lovely honest words. I felt emotional when my son was born because I was no longer pregnant and the only one looking after him so God know how I’ll be when he starts school!

    No-one I know has their shit together and I’ve found with a baby/child when you maybe think you might be on your way to having it, something happens with the kids that turns it all upside down again. Be kind to yourself, today of all days. Sounds like you and your wee boy are doing great.

    P.s. love the Glasgow pics!

  16. Yanthé
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Anna following you on Instagram and Twitter and seeing all the wonderful things you do for George have long since caused me to think you are the most brilliant mum, but this has just confirmed it. Would you come back later and tell us all about what George got up to on his first day? I would love to know! As a non-parent I can’t put myself in your position and imagine how this would feel, but I am sure it will get easier every day.

  17. Posted September 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Anna if I’m half the mum you are by the time H & C head off to school I’ll be more than chuffed.

    All the words I want to share with you have already been said above, far more eloquently than I could so I’ll just say I’m sending all the internet cake and hugs your way today. xxx

  18. Posted September 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I can add much to this so I’m sending virtual cake and hugs. You should be so proud of the person George is and will become, from what I’ve seen from your blog and from twitter there are few children starting school this autumn who will be better prepared for the adventures he is about to have.

    Enjoy having the daytime to yourself, and enjoy sharing all those ‘first day’ tales George will come home with xx

  19. Sharon
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Anna, I can only echo what all the other comments have said and also send more internet cake your way. I know your house will be full of George’s friends soon, as I can just tell from your blog and posts like these that yours will be the house all the kids want to hang out at x

    • Posted September 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Ahhhhh that is my dream!!! I want to build a clubhouse in the garden and have a fridge that makes ice – that’s been my dream since I was about 11!!!! You have just made my day xxxxx

  20. Posted September 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Hey ladies, I just want to thank Clare, Anna and Aisling so much for letting my post here today. All your comments have buoyed me up throughout the day so thank you very, very much. He went in absolutely fine and came running out this afternoon with lots of chit chat about his day. Then after twentyinutes of being at home he started to do what I thought was a handstand but he went all the way over and apparently learn to somersault at lunchtime in the playground. So all that time worrying about whether he’ll have a nice teacher or if he’ll make friends is now going to be channelled into hoping I don’t spend the next few years in A&E. ahhhh the joys of parenting.
    They always come up with something you’d never even thought of.

    • Katy W
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      So glad it went well – I forwarded this to a friend whose little girl starts school tomorrow – it sounds like he had a great time. Really beautiful writing too.

      K x

  21. Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only just read this now, but I just wanted to add that you write so beautifully about being a parent, and as others have said, from the pictures you post on Instagram and twitter it always looks like you have such a great time together, and I’m glad to hear his day went well!

  22. Rach M
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m so sorry I missed this this morning and am just coming to this now, Anna. I’m always marvelling at your Instagram and all the fab things you are doing with George. Should my time ever come I’ll be taking so many cues from you. You’re awesome. I hope the days get easier and that he comes home with more delightful surprises, and more and more friends to visit. I totally agree with the thought that yours would be the coolest house to go to, and you’d be the coolest Mum, doing the funnest things.
    R xx

  23. Merida
    Posted September 12, 2013 at 12:44 am | Permalink

    How have I never seen or heard that poem?
    It’s a beaut!

    My Son started school last Thursday and after peeling him off me, hysterically sobbing (him, not me) I got myself home as quick as possible and had a good sob myself. Waited a full 30 minutes and called the school. The Receptionist kindly went and checked on him and assured me he was absolutely fine. Even now, a week later I get a hard horrid lump in my throat…I’m not sure if its worse this time as my Daughter is now in YR2 and when she started I still had this absolute terror of a toddler to deal with. And now they’re both gone (Honestly, what a drama queen!) Now what?

    You’re absolutely right. The school gets all the best bits and I do feel cheated when I’ve got 2 tired over stimulated children BUT as the term progresses I know it will all settle down and a nice routine will be established. The best bit about school? Is the holidays! All the silly things you take for granted when they’re at home full time…lay in, play all day in jimjams, out in the garden on the trampoline in jimjams, late nights watching Tom & Jerry, no lunchboxes…just time to be (…….in your jimjams!)

    I do hope George settles in OK and all your projects get underway soon (I’m chomping at the bit to sort my million and one photographs out…..watch this space!)

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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