I was very anxious about the idea of Miss Rose starting nursery school. I was worried I’d miss her, I was worried she’d miss me, and I was worried she wouldn’t be happy. I hated school from the moment I started going at Miss Rose’s age, and to the day I left at eighteen. Loathed it. Dreaded it. Every day it was a struggle to force myself to go. The idea of putting Miss Rose through that, and knowing it was something I absolutely had to do, haunted me.
Turns out the kid loves it. Adores it! At drop off she disappears in without looking back, launching herself into activities with glee. Her teacher assured me she is settling in well, absolutely fine and not getting into trouble. When I peek in through the windows before the pick up time, she’s sat right at the front, gazing up at the teacher adoringly, and listening to the class story. At pick up she trots out, gives me a hug, and proceeds to rattle about all the lovely things she’s been getting up to that day. She is in her element.
This, I have found, is freeing. I have been able to find simple pleasures in life that had long since disppeared from normality.
1) Showering Alone
Showers are a rushed experience as a stay at home mum.
The door has to be open, to allow a chance to witness any crimes and my shouting voice to carry down the hall, which invariably sets the smoke alarm off. Then, as the child delightedly shouts “Fire! Fire! Fire!” whilst hopping around waving her arms in the air, I have to stumble across with soap in my eyes, and reach up to turn the thing off again, leaving a path of soapy footprints, before quickly jumping back in to rinse off before the damn thing goes off again.
Often I have an audience, leaning into the shower to play with the water, which soaks her clothes, which in turn causes her to complain bitterly that she’s wet and needs me to get out of the shower to do something about it.
Whilst I am not fully happy about this, in terms of the patriarchal reasons women are required to shave to be socially acceptable whereas men can walk around looking like wildebeasts and nobody blinks an eye, I do generally prefer to maintain at least a vaguely smooth appearance to my body. This requires shaving. Which requires a smearing your legs in shaving foam and wielding a razor without slicing your skin. Which means you can’t rush. unless you have children in which case IF you manage to shave your legs it always comes out patchy and you usually have blood pooling round your ankle.
Miss Rose is at nursery school. I just took a shower. The fire alarm didn’t go off. My hair is not only washed but it is conditioned. I didn’t shave my legs but that was out of laziness and choice, not because it was essential for my wellbeing and desire not to lose anymore blood.
2) Pooping Alone
Actually, all bathroom activities alone! Being able to sit on the toilet and play on my phone like a normal person, without anyone climbing on me or demanding to know what I’m doing or asking if they can flush the toilet for me or saying, in a remarkably judgmental tone, “Mummy, what’s that smell?” Being able to pluck your eyebrows in one go, not have to stop and shout with half a monobrow still going on, which you’re inclined to forget about until you get to the shops an hour later and spot yourself in a reflective surface, is a remarkable experience.
3) Not Sharing Food
Miss Rose is a keen eater. Not just a keen eater but a jealous eater. She usually assumes that whatever’s on your plate is better than what’s on her plate, and she will pester you for it continually.
I just ate an entire box of vegetable spring rolls. I got them from the freezer, put them in the oven, got them out of the oven, and then ate then. All. By. Myself. Boom!
4) Netflix And Chill
I’ve started watching a series on Netflix. Something I want to watch. Not something to watch with The Boy. Not Ninja Turtles or Peppa Pig with children. Something for me. I’m watching “Making A Murderer” and it is fascinating.
5) The Ease Of Getting Jobs Done
I said to The Boy when he got home that you know she’s at Nursery because the bathroom smells of bleach and the laundry is all up to date! Yesterday, whilst watching Netflix obviously, I thoroughly cleaned our kitchen, organised our snack cupboard, and prepped ingredients for making sprout and potato soup with the girl after school. I watched my show, got the work done, and nobody pestered me or clung off me or needed me to do something. I could have things within reach of child height with no danger. I could get things done quickly and efficiently, and with something to watch that was, as above, for me!
This is a rare one but a real one. I haven’t yet indulged in this but that doesn’t mean I won’t. If we have a bad night or I’m sick or I’m just completely drained for whatever reason, I sometimes long for a chance to close my eyes for half an hour in a way that is real and true and pure. I love that image of sleep like I loved the long haired drummer I’d never be able to get my hands on in high school. It is close enough to touch, yet somehow unobtainable. Now, I know, if this happens I just have to get home from school, lie on the sofa, close my eyes and go ahhhhhhh.
Your children disappearing to Nursery School is a huge step for both of you. But, in my experience, it’s hardest for the mum. Finding the positives, seeing it as time to be used not time with something huge missing from your life, is how to make the most of it. I miss Miss Rose every time she’s there and picking her up fills me with joy, but now I know she’s happy there, I am finding a real joy in these three hours a day I get just for me. Simple pleasures that really do make your life better.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!