Why Carrie Bickmore is a stage-five clinger
NORMALLY I can't wait for the school year to finish and holidays to kick in, but this year is different.
I feel a gentle sadness creeping over me that I can't shake. It's the end of an era. The end of primary school for my eldest and I'm not ready.
I feel like we're in this sweet spot with him. He is old enough to shower and dress himself (not to be scoffed at), get himself brekkie, cook a pretty damn good dinner and read on his own.
He still likes being around us (most of the time), is happy keeping an eye on his little sisters and is free from the impending hormone assault.
I have friends with kids in high school, I see what's ahead - the smells, the retreating, the grunting - and I'm not sure I'm ready.
Those same friends point out that by having my kids so far apart, there is 11 years between my first and third (my last!), it means I have effectively bought myself another decade of schooling, so there's no need to feel sad.
Yep, if I do the maths, by the time my three kids finish school I will have done 24 years of drop offs, made more than 14,400 lunches, spent at least 5000 mornings looking for lost library books and smiled through endless school concerts that my children appeared in for less than five minutes.
Nevertheless, I am starting to savour those seemingly mundane moments, hanging around like a stage-five clinger. I still remember the relief I felt when I could drop Ollie off at parties and not have to stay. No more small talk and a little window to get the groceries done.
Oh the joy I felt when I no longer had to stay and watch hours of cricket, or the freedom gained from him being able to walk to and from school alone. But now I am loitering like a loser, lurking in the background until eventually I get the "Mum, you can go now."
No wonder parents face a crisis of identity when their kids finish school. What the hell do you do with all that spare time? More time to worry, I guess.
I feel like parenthood is a series of activities you try to speed up at the time... but then long for after. Wishing summer holidays would end so the kids would stop arguing, skipping pages of books to make bedtime go faster, or hoping for a washout at tennis so you don't need to be a mum taxi for another weekend.
But once there is no weekend sport to watch, or bubs to put to bed, we'll give anything for a small person to snuggle up next to us in bed and crave our attention.
So as I steel myself for our final dance together at graduation, I have promised Ollie I won't cry or daggy dance (ridiculous promises I can't keep!).
I will try to not get overwhelmed by the finality of this time and remember there is a whole world of firsts still to come.
Carrie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm weeknights on Network 10, and Carrie & Tommy, 3pm weekdays on the Hit Network.