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Tonight is the eve of Daniel’s birthday. As the first born, his birthdays are even more a marker of time – that moment when life changed beyond compare, in ways we knew it would, but in ways we could never have anticipated. It’s also a time when I always find myself stopping and reflecting on things; the choices we have made and the path we have been on.
As I lay in the hospital six years ago, waiting to see if I’d be spending another night on the delivery suite or whether it would be a night of observations I could never have envisaged life as it is now. I never would have anticipated the ways motherhood would change me. I could never have predicted the path parenthood would take us down.
Six years on and I feel like I am managing to carve a bit more time out for me; feeling like I am beginning to mark out my new identity beyond ‘mum’. When you don’t use nurseries and pre-schools but your children aren’t quite old enough to join in with home ed stuff you occupy a strange place. You’re not really in any particular camp and it can be hard to find friends who understand the decisions you’re making and why. I’m lucky that there are a lot of home educators locally and I feel like I’m carving a space out for us in that community.
Daniel’s fifth year has been momentous for him – so much has happened for him developmentally and he is really developing in confidence, and I see more and more of his character as the months pass. But Daniel’s fifth year has been big for me too. I have gained more confidence in the choices we have made; getting him reading was a big part in that, but I am more sure now that we are on the right path and look forward to developing some of the plans I have. I have made good friends within the home ed community and it’s nice to be able to have a group of friends who are on that same path who I can go out with socially. It’s kept me sane having a group of friends to compare notes with and share ideas with.
This year has also been a time when I’ve been able to really get more time for me. I’m enjoying finding time to get to the gym to push and challenge myself more and more. I want the children to be able to jump and play around with me and I need to stay strong in order to do that. I enjoy the challenge and it’s a good break for me to focus on something else – home educating can be all consuming and I need that break away for my sanity.
It’s also been a year when Damian and I have been able to make firmer long-term plans. Nothing too big but sorting out longer-term finances to allow us to have some choices in the next few years; choices like travelling or moving house and being able to offer the children different thing. Of everything we have talked about and planned, we really want to expose the children to travel. We have been to a few places with them in the UK and they’ve got so much from it. Travel really does broaden the mind and I am keen for the children to visit some Spanish speaking countries – I am sure the experience would bring their language skills on massively.
Travel is something I am glad we managed to do a reasonable amount of before we had the children, but I must admit I do yearn sometimes for that freedom of just being able to book a flight and go somewhere. I hope that we get to do some long haul travel as a family in the not too distant future – the one place I haven’t yet ticked off my list of places to visit is South America, and it’s a place I would love to visit with the children.
Daniel’s fifth year has been as challenging as it’s been enjoyable, and I think it’s the year when I have learnt that most. The most about me and the most about home education. More importantly it has been a year when I’ve learnt the most about my children and our little family unit.
As I said good night to Daniel he jumped up onto my back and showered me with kisses and cuddles. That tiny little baby has grown – he no longer needs the comfort of sleeping on top of me, but he loves to hear those stories. He no longer needs me to dress him and read to him. He is growing faster that I can ever have imagined and he has taught me so much these last six years. I look forward to the next year.