Summertime Sadness

While I love the Summer. I find this time of year really tough.

Bill finishes nursery for Summer on Friday. And it is, truthfully, just another reminder of the time I’m missing with him.

I have, slowly but surely, become immune to the updates in my social media feeds day-to-day. Preferring to be happy for my friends, rather than jealous. So I will like your paddling pool picture. Or the snap of your well-deserved glass of wine in the garden. Or whatever that might be.

But when Summer hits, it feels a bit harder. I’m still really happy for all of my friends. And that’s the honest truth. But it’s sometimes just harder to see.

My son has a tan line on his neck now, and his forearms. From the sun he caught when he wasn’t with me. He’s got one morning in nursery left and then he’s got Gruffalo hunts to go to, miniature train rides, days in the garden, or days just watching telly. He might make pizza with Granny in her kitchen. Or hunt down animal tracks with the magnifying glass that I bought him, saying in a whisper: “Shh, Granny! Animal tracks.”

And, well, I have to go to work.

And it’s fine. I work in a good place, doing good work, and I’m spending my time doing things that make me feel proud. And my bosses aren’t pricks. And I’m happy about that.

And work is what we need to do to survive.

But, as I was saying to Mark the other day, as we got to the train station:

Look at all these people, who are most likely going back to where they want to be. People looking tired. Sat on their suitcases. People running for the train home. The same faces I see every day as we wait on platform 4 for the familiar train back.

And isn’t it strange that, when you consider how fast time runs away with itself, that our we spend so much of our time trying to afford our lives?

I still consider myself to be a new mum really. In that every new year is a new element of motherhood for me. But Bill is three. He starts school next year and, in September, I’ll be applying for him to start the next chapter of his life.

One day my son is going to wear a shiny new school uniform. And he’ll do a cheesy grin in front of our front door. And I’ll probably cry.

But for now, it’s Summer. And I’m on the countdown to the one week of the year where I get to spend the most collective time with my son. Our family holiday. A whole week of us three. He isn’t taken away from me. He isn’t anywhere else but by my side.

I live for that week. I don’t get that at Christmas, now he’s the son of separated parents. And I live for that week because it was all I have ever dreamed of since the second I realised he was in my stomach. A tiny spot that was part of me, that eventually took over me and claimed my heart.

I feel like time with our children must be the greatest thing in the world.

But then I wonder if I’m actually allowed to say that? The most time I ever had with Bill, in my whole life, was eight weeks and five days.

And so I have started to think – do I long for it because I have no idea what it’s like? Do I understand what I’m talking about? And would I love it just the same if it was my every day?

But that’s like saying I’m not ‘mum enough’. That I’m not a proper mother now. And it brings so many questions to the table. Because what is a mother? Really? What is she?

Other people have feelings different to mine. Is the grass greener? Or is there a perfect balance that only some of us have found?

I must stop comparing myself to other mums. I must stop doing this to myself. But it’s hard when I feel like I’m failing at the simplest task – of just being there. Being his mother.

If it were not for money, I would be there. Because, when you break it down, and you consider why we are actually here, I really do believe it’s so we can make the most of it. This life will not last. One day it will be over and I don’t want to be full of regret for not spending my days with the people I love. Motherhood is constantly reminding me of how fragile everything is. It’s almost like I became a mother and I was asked to look at the world again, for a second time.

I love him. And he’s growing up. And I’m just not there.

And no one has invented a way to change that.

Bernard and his watch remain in my childhood. A time that is even further away.

And one day this post will remain in Bill’s childhood.

I hope I can either accept it. Or change it.

Or maybe one day it just won’t hurt as much anymore.

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  • Reply
    Lauraevelyn bee
    23rd July 2015 at 8:13 am

    Beautifully written post and you write about that bitter-sweet feeling that is motherhood wonderfully. I hope you have a wonderful family holiday xx

  • Reply
    Nicola Bradbury
    23rd July 2015 at 9:16 am

    Oh Charlotte, I can totally relate to this. We can't afford to go away this year, so other than a week off in August, we've nothing really to look forward too. It's particularly hard as Alfie remembers coming away with us on our honeymoon last year and he keeps asking if we can go on holiday and if we can go on a plane and it breaks our hearts that we can't afford to give him what he wants. Due to the shifts I work, we only get ONE day together as a family – a Saturday, which is spent food shopping or tidying or visiting family. Every weekend, I feel the pain of not being able to wake up and enjoy the slow pace of a Sunday morning then going out and not having to rush round to fit everything in. I see all my friends post pictures of playing in the garden with children on Sunday's with the caption 'this is what Sunday's are for…' and it breaks me a little bit. Just like you long to be off with him over the summer,I long to be off with mine at the weekend, when my hubby is off too (we both get 2 days a week with him and I get 2 afternoons too, but he doesn't have two consecutive days with us). Like you, I can't afford not to work, but I am really sacrificing precious family time and it breaks me a little bit more each week. I totally, utterly feel your pain at not being with your son and feeling like you are missing out. But believe me, you are a wonderful mother and one day Bill will look back and see this and see just how hard to worked to provide for him, and he will be grateful for the sacrifices you are making. Lots of Love xxx

  • Reply
    23rd July 2015 at 10:05 am

    Beautifully written and in a way sort of the type of thing I need to read. I am a stay at home mum, whilst it wasn't something I longed for it made no sense for me to return to work because of the childcare cost versus what I would actually have for working. It wasn't worth it. But I get why you do what you do and that needs no explaining. Whilst I have no clue how it is to be going to work everyday whilst knowing my son is at home or in nursery I also have to say that I'm begining to realise that the grass isn't always greener, it's just as green on either side. I have days where I don;t talk to anyone other than that quick goodbye to my hubby as he leaves for work. Of course I have my son but he's just turned two and so the conversations are quite different from adult ones. You are doing the most amazing job. You really are. Life isn't always better on the other side, I've finally begun to realise that I myself need to stop comparing myself, and so do you 🙂 We do what we do, we mother in our own ways. Sorry for the rambling comment. That holiday will be awesome by the way. My hubby also has the same issue of not having solid time with my step son. Christmas is a case of two halves for us, morning as a family of four, afternoon as a family of three, it's the way it's always been and not likely to change. He even had his son not wanting to come on holiday with us this year because he would miss his mum too much and he didn't want to be away from her. But I'm really going off topic now. You are an amazing mum and an amazing lady 🙂 Bill knows now just how much he is loved 🙂 Have a great day x

  • Reply
    Jade Priscilla
    23rd July 2015 at 10:54 am

    Great post, which rings true with so many parents, myself included. I stayed home for the first five years of my daughter's life then went to work, now I beat myself up because I wish I was at home for the next five or six years whilst she's at school as I hate feeling like i'm missing vital parts of her learning. x

  • Reply
    Provider of snacks
    28th July 2015 at 11:57 am

    I've been desperate to hear something from a separated parent. I share custody and it's awful. I work as well so wave them off to childcare and I'm a part time Mum. I have whole swathes of time where I am not with my children and I just feel like half a person because of it. Half of the week I don't know what they eat or when they wake up or if they need me. I hear people complain about the mundane part of being parents but I long for that – like you I long for that never ending stretch of time. I try and be positive because in so many ways I am lucky and I have healthy happy children, but I can tell already that they're growing up so fast and they will be gone in a blink of an eye and I would have literally missed it.

  • Reply
    Cuddles and Cocktails
    30th July 2015 at 9:16 am

    Beautifully heartfelt post, and if it helps any, all mums if their honest, have the same dilemmas in their head! Well, I do anyhow. I feel guilty I work, I feel guilty when I don't work, I feel guilty when i've not been 'fun' enough and so the list goes on. It's motherhood, it messes with your head! Try not to beat yourself up about it, you are the very best person in his world (no-one can beat a Mother's love) and he will love you unconditionally for that, no matter if you need to work or not:)

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