So it’s been a pretty epic month.
There’s been a huge milestone in my life, in my family’s and in my daughter’s. Lyra our youngest child, our ‘baby’ finished primary school! Starting there at the age of 3, she’s barely missed a day of in nine years is now leaving that stability and familiarity behind. I personally changed primary school 3 times and have often felt that didn’t enable me to establish really strong roots or relationships.
This milestone, whilst common, has been precious and emotional. It requires me as a parent to recognise that it is a period of change and that I need to support my child through it – something that takes time and energy alongside a busy working life. As a parent I spend a lot of time willing my children’s lives forward as each step of growing up and gaining more independence makes the parental work-life juggle just a little easier (usually!).
But with each step forward, each milestone naturally comes more change. Franciscan School has been part of my life for about ten years. Both as a parent and a governor, I have built relationships – and friendships – with staff and parents. This change, losing that everyday connection that her primary school gave me, left me an emotional, blubbering wreck, barely able to speak as I collected Lyra for the very last time.
This milestone leads me to reflect on being a working parent – the joy and richness it brings but also the energy, rigour and planning it takes. I’ve been a parent since I was 28. Firstly, as an on-and-off-again ‘step’ parent, then giving birth to my own children in my 30’s. In those 20 years I’ve taken the lead responsibility of scheduling our lives around drop offs, pickups and the amazing scheduling jigsaw that life of a school age child is. And as soon as you have all the pieces in place, you hit another milestone – another life stage or activity, changes to childcare or illness that throws out all the pieces of your carefully pieced together puzzle.
It should then come as no surprise that I am an advocate of supporting new parents take time to celebrate and cherish those milestones. At King’s we have the Parents’ & Carers’ Leave Fund, which is designed financially support academic and research staff take time out to experience these precious moments and then get back on their career path.
It really does take a village to raise a child and I am forever grateful for my hodgepodge network of grandparents, older sisters, extended family, friends and childcare – Lyra goes on to a new phase and that is super exciting. I know it doesn’t actually get easier but I am going to take a short time to both mourn what is gone and celebrate the next milestone to come.