Saying goodbye

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy tells us about her twins starting pre-school… 

‘If I kept my girls at home with me all day, every day, until they were 15 or 16, they’d totally turn out normal, wouldn’t they? Who can care for them as well as I can, after all? We have great fun, why would I want to change that? Everything should stay the same…
OK, I know. It can’t stay like this forever. I’ve been unbelievably lucky to be a full-time mum for 3 years, but the game is up. The twins are going to nursery. It’s just 3 afternoons a week, but I feel like an earthquake has hit. Our world is changing forever.

I first applied for nursery at a local primary school last February. It felt surreal back then, to be checking out which school I wanted them to attend when they’d only just turned 2. But now it’s all very real.

We live outside the catchment for 2 great primary schools by a matter of a few feet. Even numbers on our road are within it. We’re odd. The school we’re meant to send them to is a good one too, as they all are in this small city, but, and I freely admit to snobbery here, the catchment area includes some, erm, less well-manicured areas. It’s awful to admit, as a proudly left-wing, everyone is equal type of girl, but when I checked out the various pools of pupils, I baulked. This isn’t about ‘good kids’ and ‘bad kids’, but when it comes to my girls’ futures, I just want to give them the best shot of a great education. ‘Our’ primary had a less-than-glowing Inspectorate report too, so I decided to try to get the twins into nursery at one of the 2 ‘better’ schools to increase their chances of getting into primary school there too. So I picked the one I’d heard was more likely to take out-of-area pupils and assumed that was that. Only I found out this week, they didn’t get in. I was gutted. What was I going to do now?

‘The girls need to get used to being away from me,’ I panicked. ‘Where am I going to send them?’

I called the other ‘better’ school. My heart soared as I was told there were a few places left, to be dished out on a first come, first served basis. Suddenly, my day was a whirl of getting the girls to Granny’s, scouring the house for birth certificates and Council Tax bills, and a dash up to the school to fill out the forms.

‘Good thing you came up,’ smiled the secretary. ‘I’ve had 2 more phone calls since yours.’

I got 2 of the last 4 places. OK, so I’ll still have to fight to get them into school there when the time comes but, for now, I know they’re in a great nursery. Overwhelmed with relief, I was delighted. For about a minute-and-a-half. Because then it hit me. G and T would actually be going to nursery. Without me.

Leaving them for one morning at playgroup was hard enough, this is going to be much harder… well for me, anyway. Whenever I speak to the twins about pre-school, they ask if I will be staying, and look worried when I gently explain that I can’t. It absolutely breaks my heart to think of them getting upset without me, of them needing me when I’m not there. Knowing the truth isn’t even helping. Of course they’ll be worried and uncertain for all of 5 minutes. Then they’ll be so caught up in things, they’ll forget I’m not there. Truth is, I’m not enough for them any more. They’ve been blessed with a permanent playmate in each other, but it’s important now for them to make new friends and get used to a life without Mummy on hand every minute. They’ll be fine. More than fine.
I’ll still have M to keep me busy of course, but we’ll miss our wee playmates on those afternoons, M even more than me, I reckon. Yes, she’ll have Mummy to herself, but I’m nowhere near as interesting. For any of them. It’s time for my girls to start growing up. And I’ll just have to grow up and get over it too.’

Did you find it hard when your kids started school? And did you worry whether the school was good enough? Tell us in our comments section below or on Facebook.

Amy’s other blog posts…