Starting School and Letting Go of Guilt.

We are very honoured to announce that Afua Adom is joining us as a guest contributor.  Afua is a seasoned media professional and wonderful mother to an adorable little lady.  Afua was one of the first mother's we featured, you can read more about her here.  For now enjoy her honest, emotive and heart warming first post for Motherhood Reconstructed. Hi all!

Welcome to my new, sometimes regular blog for Motherhood Reconstructed. I hope my ramblings and musings are taken with the light and shade that's meant, but feel free to use the comments box below!

This summer has really been one of, to coin a super cheesy phrase, "growth" for me in more ways than one. A new job kicking off at the end of June and a last summer with my little big girl before she started school has been full of heightened emotions. The new job has brought me a whole new bunch of friends and family who I love, while doing radio which means I get to talk to myself all morning. It's given me the opportunity to spend more time with my girl whilst earning a decent enough pay packet for treats now again, as well as keeping the bill machine oiled. Result.

Naima skipped off to Devon with the other side of the family for a week this summer which was equally great and upsetting for me. I took this opportunity to have a little bit of time off. My 'mumcation' kicked off with a trip to the north of England for a friends surprise 30th, followed by a couple of days in a spa. I drank Prosecco on rooftops with friends, had lie-ins with my other half and read a ton of books. But there was always a little piece of me missing. The house was too quiet, there wasn't enough laundry to do (said no one ever!) and it felt a little like my heart was walking around outside my body. I worried every day. But she had a great time and came back a couple of inches taller and full of stories about her cousins and their shenanigans. Was it good for both of us? No - it was Great for both of us. Would I do it again? We'll see...

Naima starting school filled me with as much anxiety as any other mama and maybe a bit more. Why? Well, I can't really explain. I'm a writer lost for words. I remember saying to a friend of mine, "for some reason Naima starting school makes me feel like I've failed". "Why?" she asked me. I thought of what it meant to me; that I would be a solo parent at the school gates, that I would have to fight with her dad to get him to support us in any way, that I hadn't had the brother or sister for her that she so desperately wanted while she was young, that I had spent the past two years trying desperately to keep our heads above water and that I would give anything to have that time back, that I was wracked with guilt about all the things I hadn't done with her or for her. I took off for a week in the sun with my mum and my bubs dreading coming back and getting out her little uniform. Somewhere on a beach in the sunny south of Spain, whilst digging a huge hole to Australia with my girl and laughing with my mum about some relative who doesn't know how to dress I had a rare moment of clarity. How on earth was I failing by getting through the last two years? How is getting my happy and settled daughter into a great primary school a fail? It was anything but. Another friend of mine said something to me that rung so true, "that super-sized bitch called parental guilt is undermining you!" And she was so right. Yes, it's been a hard two years, yes I'm solo-parenting, yes I wasn't sure if we would make it, yes her dad isn't around for her as much as she would like, but it sure as hell doesn't define Naima or me. We are made of laughter, of silliness, of light and most importantly so much love. It might be just us two but we're a force to be reckoned with. So I did a complete 360 in the way I think about Naima starting school.

I now know what Charlie Sheen meant when he came up with '#winning'. The change is scary and it's hard to see my little munchkin all grown up so fast, but this has been a real lesson to me in changing the way I think about myself. I cannot let every change or milestone be blighted by the past. And I will not let my present be defined by my so-called status. And when all is said and done the main thing is this: Naima LOVES school. She loves her uniform, her new friends, she loves her class, she loves the playground and she loves the fact she's now at big school. Sometimes I gaze at the little big girl in front of me, who has handled the past two years with the grace and poise that I wish I had, she's bossing reception. Now I just need to boss the rest of my life exactly like she's doing.