I Will Never Walk My Child To School

I’ll never walk my child to school

I get to buy him uniform. I get to pack him snacks for playtime and fill a bottle of fresh water for him. I get to buy him a nice warm winter coat, new footwear, and a nice new bag.

But I’ll never walk my child to school.

I’ll never get to wave to him as he joins his line for the first time. I’ll never get to say good morning to his friends, kiss him goodbye at the gate, exchange pleasantries with other parents or pop into the office with his forgotten pencil case.

I wish I could walk my child to school.

It’s not the biggest thing to want. It’s not expensive or overly time consuming or rare to see. I just want to hold his hand or walk beside him in the morning and at 3 o’clock like other parents get to do with their children.

I never had it at the nursery stage but somehow that didn’t seem quite as bad. He’ll grow up never seeing my face just before he enters school to be away from me for six hours. Whatever his day was like I won’t ever be the smile that greets him or the hand that takes his as he leaves school behind for another day.

He’s still young and he needs me. I should be walking him to school.

There’s a wonderful school so close to us. Not too big, not too small, with such a friendly, welcoming ethos. I should have been buying burgundy jumpers to match his sister and seeing him laugh with friends in the school playground minutes from my house. When I sit in the garden listening to the children in my daughter’s school play outside I close my eyes and dream that my son is there too, kicking a ball about, chatting to friends, sharing life.

Instead I say my goodbyes at the front gate handing my son over to strangers who change every academic year. I strap him in a car seat, kiss his tender little cheek and tell him I love him. He never waves back. He rarely even looks at me.

I long to walk him to school.

We would splash in puddles. We would laugh when the wind blows our umbrellas inside out. I would listen intently as he told me about his day, his lessons, and who was star of the week. He would nag me to leave him at the gate instead of the line as he got older and we would get excited in winter walking in snow and making footprints. I know this because I get to do all of that, and more, with his sister.

Walking your child to school is so much more than just a menial daily chore. It’s bonding with your child, giving them priceless security and routine, its allowing your child uninterrupted special time to de stress and transition from school to home. It’s being familiar with their school, knowing the office staff by name,smiling at their teacher and having a chance to sort things out quickly because you are right there where you should be.

Is it wrong that I want that for my son too?

To know he has arrived safely, to walk home myself feeling at peace, to know where he is and that he is safe, to feel comfortable with the people who are looking after him and teaching him.

I’ll never walk my child to school and that simple, everyday loss is so hard to deal with sometimes.

My son has complex needs so has to go by transport to school many miles from home. I correspond with the school via short sentences in a diary. I don’t know what door my child enters the school or exits or if he even lines up outside. I don’t get to see his playground, his friends, or the staff. I have to assume he has arrived safely and he is well even when the weather is awful or I hear of accidents on the route. I can’t pop in with a forgotten snack or a form and even when I call them my voice or name isn’t familiar.

I wish it was different but it’s not.

Please don’t take it for granted when you walk your child to school. Some parents, like me, will never know that simple joy.

Today is just another morning that I never walked my child to school.

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My heart rejoices but my eyes still cry

I can be happy for you. I know I can. I am a mum too. I understand pride in your child. I get why you want to share because I do too.
You see my heart rejoices with you when you post about your child’s achievements. I click ‘like’ or comment because all children are worthy of celebrating and because I want you to know I care.
Yet sometimes my eyes still cry.
When you post about your oldest starting university. I KNOW without a shadow of doubt what a big moment that is. I know because I made it to university and my parents were so proud of me too. My heart rejoices at how far your child has come and the immense pride this brings you. I also want your son or daughter to know that this is huge for them too. So I am right with you while you celebrate.
Yet sometimes my eyes still cry.
When you post those beautiful and funny videos of your young child singing and dancing I watch them over and over. I can’t get enough of them. The joy and excitement and beauty in your posts and pictures give me such a buzz too. Your little ones brighten my day with their smart clothes, cheeky grins, and silly faces. You make my Monday morning blues disappear with your funny stories and kids selfies.
Yet sometimes my eyes still cry.
I brood over your baby pics. I get so much joy from your wedding photos. And oh that pride and anxiety you feel at your child’s’ first day at school pics; I feel that too when I see your baby so smart and ready for a big adventure. Your holiday pics brighten the rainiest day and I admit I feel a little jealous at your beautiful body and tanned skin. You always remind me that life is for living so I look at your pics and like them. Not because I have to but because I am delighted for you. I really am.
Yet sometimes my eyes still cry.
I don’t want them to but it just happens. I am not really sad and you are not upsetting me but a part of me knows that my life is different.
But I won’t be bitter. Because that does not help me and it robs you of some of your joy and delight if you think you are making me sad.
So please don’t worry about it if you see a tear drop from my eye or I look away for a moment.
I am actually not sad.
I am dreaming.
Dreaming of the day my son may one day dance like your little one. Dreaming of the day I can post a video of him saying ‘mummy’ and making silly faces with me. Dreaming of how happy I would be to post pictures of him if he achieved like your beautiful babies do.
Right now I don’t have that. But one day in my dreams I will.
One day I will post holiday pics of us splashing in a pool together on a sunny day. One day I will post a video of him at Christmas singing jingle bells. He may be a grown up by then but I will celebrate just the same, because achievements are achievements at any age. My timescale and your timescale may be different but I rejoice with you none the less.
Keep sharing your joy. Keep sharing your pride. I need reminded that life is wonderful and joyous and not filled with hospital trips and therapies and struggles. I need to see your baby laughing because I don’t hear laughter as much as I should with my baby.
Thank you for sharing your life and your children and your stories. You bring me joy, and encouragement, and you help me dream on.
I can be happy for you. I know I can. I will not be bitter because I love you and rejoice with you. We journey in this together. Much of my journey is still a dream but that is ok.
Keep me dreaming. Keep me smiling.
Keep my heart rejoicing when my eyes still cry.

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Grieving for a child I haven’t lost

*Preface: I feel it is important to say that while I stand by every word of this blog I do not always feel this same intense grief at all times. If you can relate to this blog I want you to know two things: you are not alone, and it does get better. With love, Miriam *

As I sat on the bench in a public park the tears came easily. Watching little toddlers peddling trikes and mothers chatting to babies. Seeing pre-school children laughing and chatting as they wheeled around the water on their brightly coloured scooters.

It has been building for a while.

The night before last it was anger and hurt as a friend shared how her 14 month old was defiantly talking back when they were trying to get her to bed. I wanted to scream and say ‘but she understands! But she talks!’ Instead I mourned silently.

The world goes on while I grieve for a child I haven’t lost.

It is a very different pain to others. I know the pain of not having children. I know the pain of losing a yet-to-be-born baby. I know the pain of losing someone very close. I know that feeling of despair and anger and hopelessness. People understand when they know you have loved and lost.

But how do you explain you are grieving a child you have not lost?

I get to read to my son. I get to bathe him and dress him and kiss him. I hear him laugh when I tickle him and get to push him on the swings at the park. He goes to school. He will watch a video sometimes. And yet he is lost.

I have yet to hear his voice. I grieve for the conversations we will never have. I grieve the fact I will never hear him sing or shout or chat with friends like those little ones in the park. I grieve for the fact I will never hear him tell me a joke or talk to me about his day at school. I grieve for the loss of never hearing him whisper ‘I love you’. I can only dream about what his little voice may sound like, how it might have grown in depth and tone as he aged, what sort of accent he may have had or how he would pronounce names of people he knew. A part of him will never be. And I feel the loss and pain of that.

I grieve for all the milestones I have missed and may never have with him. As I watched a mum bend down to hold her son’s hand today to help him walk I thought about how much she takes for granted. Her little one was not much over a year old and yet he confidently held her hand to take some steps. By the time my child did anything like this he was tall enough that I had no need to bend and his hands were nothing like as tiny as her son’s. I have skipped the toilet training, the bike riding, the learning to read and write, the school plays, the attending clubs and the having friends. I have been robbed of things others take for granted and that should be part of normal childhood. There is a loss and a sadness for times that might have been but will never be.

There is sadness that I can not walk him to school or that he can not go to school with his twin sister. There is pain relying on others to tell me about his day when I should hear it from him. There is heartbreak watching the neighbours child of the same age jump on a trampoline and my son can not balance on one leg let alone jump. There is a lump in my throat when people ask what my child wants for Christmas and he still plays with baby toys at almost seven. We have never experienced the tooth fairy with him, he has no concept of Santa Claws and neither chooses his own clothes nor has the ability to dress himself. He has never said ‘mummy can I have’ or gone in a strop because he can not go out to play. He has no friends his own age and doesn’t get invited to parties.

He is here but to many he isn’t.

I have a son. He is my pride and joy. I am so proud of everything he does. But I still grieve for him, for the things he will never achieve and the experiences he will never have. And I grieve for myself as a parent when I see a world of parenting I can only ever dream about.

As I sat on a bench in a public park the tears came easily; tears of heartache and anger, tears of frustration and pain.

It is all part of the journey. Before I can move on I need to grieve for the loss. And grieving takes time.

So please forgive me and support me. Life goes on and I understand that. I have no bitterness at that.

But sometimes those tears are needed. Bear with me as I grieve for a child I haven’t lost.