Sussex columnist: Shedding some tears as I pass another parenting milestone

This column has been written by a mum whose eyes are a bit blurry with tears.

I’m not upset about the heat – on the contrary this week has been absolutely glorious, I’ve felt like I live on the Med. No, what’s upset me is that last week was the last time I would have days on my own with my son.

I work part-time and usually spend two days a week with just him. But with my daughter starting school holidays this week and him starting school in September, last week marked the end of an era I have enjoyed for the past eight years.

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Making precious memories going fruit picking

I used to have time alone with my daughter before she started school four years ago. And then that continued after my son was born.

I’ve absolutely loved getting one-on-one time with both of them, and taking them for days out in the relative un-busyness of the working week.

So, with watery eyes at the significance of this milestone moment (my husband would say I’ve always been a massive sap) I decided to make the most of my last couple of days alone with him, especially as the weather was so good.

One of the days we went to Roundstone Pick-Your-Own Farm, somewhere we normally go every year. Although, having said that, the last time we went was 2020, just as lockdown was easing and it was able to open again. We went early one morning, but it was still absolutely heaving, and there was very little fruit left, like a plague of hungry post-lockdowners had torn through it and stripped each and every plant bear.

It kind of put me off for a while, but this time was much, much better. In fact, we almost couldn’t have timed it better, as everything was perfectly ripe and seemingly in abundance.

Within ten minutes we’d filled a punnet with deep red strawberries, and my son had only put in a few that were slightly squishy and rotten!

We also picked raspberries and blackberries, and a couple of courgettes which made for a tasty risotto that night.

It might take a lot more effort, but there’s something just so satisfying about eating produce that was still on the plant just hours earlier.

Definitely felt very wholesome as I ate the biggest bowl of fruit and cream you’ve ever seen later that night, if not just a teensy bit greedy!

We also visited the Worthing splash pad later that day, and there was much delight at getting soaked in the fountains.

The next day, we visited our favourite park on West Worthing seafront together.

I was made to be a sand slave, filling up countless buckets of sand to send up to him on a platform, where it was then unceremoniously dumped down a chute, often landing in my hair or in my eyes.

I had to play hide and seek, I was made to pretend to be a baby mermaid tiger, then we were pirates, complete with plenty of ‘me hearties’ chatter and too long spent on the ‘battering-ram looking swing thing’ so I felt a bit sick.

My dignity was left at the park gate, and I was exhausted from clambering on and off equipment not designed for a mum with a slightly dodgy back and thighs bigger than a toddler’s.

But it didn’t matter, because it was precious time spent with my little boy. My baby, soon to be a schoolboy.

As I took a selfie, sunglasses firmly on to mask the tears that came as our last day together ended, he gave me a kiss and said ‘love you, mummy’.

Parenthood is definitely a rollercoaster ride, but it’s happy moments like this that will live in the memory bank forever.

MORE OF KATHERINE’S COLUMNS: Sussex columnist: Seeing the world through a child’s eyes at Southwater Country Park and Uppark House and Gardens

And so from September, with both children at school five days a week, I’ll find myself in uncharted territory.

For the first time ever I’ll have days on my own, with no children to look after.Yes, I could spend those days cleaning my house, but life’s surely too short for that?! I’m thinking long walks, coffees with friends and the odd swipe of a duster!

But, before that, I’m taking a bit of time off over the summer to make the most of spending time with my kids. Wishing everyone a happy and fun holidays. See you in September!