We're just at that bit of the year before the big shift. You know the one, it's the darkening nights and mornings, slightly harder to get out of bed, back to school shift. We're not there yet, but I can feel it. This year, for me, it is characterised by big changes, not just in my immediate family but in my extended family of friends.
When I first became a mum I knew almost immediately that we weren't supposed to live the way we currently do in much of the developed world. With my screaming new babe in arms, I was lost. In every part of my new life I felt wrong: I had this long-wanted baby but I was terribly lonely, tending to the baby's needs was stressful and exhausting, I was wracked (as many mothers are) with self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Something was very definitely up, where was the bliss I had been promised in my imaginings? It felt like a conspiracy.
I now know that this is a common experience for mothers, not just new mothers at that, but often for those of us well into the swing of things. I'm strongly of the opinion that we're not programmed to be living this way and, were we to live a more tribal existence, much of the isolation and quiet despair that many women carry would be non-existent. Child-care shared amongst the people of the community, meals cooked together with laughter and ease, different ages enjoying and learning from each other, troubles shared - this seems to me a more natural way for us to live.
Those of us in the West who do not have such communities must find other ways to survive those early years of motherhood. We gather at parks and cafes, attend playgroups that are really more for us than our babes. These meetings keep us connected, keep us sane. After a night of almost no sleep, an understanding look can make it all bearable in a moment. If we are wise, we construct our own tribe.
I was lucky to have met some incredible women early on in our baby's lives and we have grown together on this crazy, wonderful, Herculean journey called motherhood. Just having company on the road is comfort enough but they have all been saviours for me in their own beautiful ways. I have been inspired in countless ways, I have laughed with them and cried many tears. I hope they all know how very blessed I feel to have had them in my life.
But, and this is the hard bit, life moves on in the way it will. Our paths are separating, perhaps this started some time ago, but the gaps between them are widening. Many of us spent last year deliberating over our children's education. We had kept our children from mainstream education in various ways but inevitably time drew on and decisions had to be made about this coming academic year. For all of us that process has been long and hard but relief often comes when we finally choose a path and so it is for us now.
The shift is near. My weeks will soon have a different flavour to them as Eli and I will be the only ones continuing our leisurely stroll through a home-based education. Those friends of ours that were so much part of our landscape will have moved on to new pastures, starting different schools, moving to totally new places to find an education that fits their values and dreams. I wish them so much happiness on their new adventures, I wish them new tribes. And I... must keep on practising the fine art of letting go.