I’m a bit fragile today. It’s a little bit down to last night’s wine and tapas – the ratio of rioja to patatas bravas was not in my favour. But it’s a lot down to the Last Supper – the goodbye dinner with the mums from my middle child’s class. After four lovely years together, we’re breaking up.
It’s not by choice – the school has decided to mix the three classes from September, and of course the direct impact is on our daughters; our common denominators. Most of them seem to have taken it reasonably well, though my daughter is still very sad; upset about being separated from her two best friends, and anxious about what September will bring.
But while our children are the beneficiaries or casualties of the move, we the mothers are the collateral damage. We’ve spent four years getting to know one another, meeting for coffee, chatting at pick-up, baring our souls on boozy nights out. And now they’re breaking us up.
No more than I have a favourite child, I don’t have a favourite class of mum friends. But I do have one group I know best, and that’s this one. Maybe it’s because I volunteered to be class rep in Junior and Senior Infants – scratching the itch that was left when I wasn’t made prefect at school (no, honestly, I’m over that, I’m not at all still thinking about it). Or maybe it’s because these were the people I stood with in yard when I first went from being the once a week mum to the everyday school pick-up mum. Or perhaps we’ve just had more boozy nights out.
And I think it’s the nights out I’ll miss more than anything. What we have in common is our daughters and the school, but somehow the dinner-table conversation covers everything but our daughters and the school – podcasts and TV shows and books and politics and holiday recommendations and jumpsuits and earrings and the fact that Cillian Murphy lives nearby. These women who are wise and witty and smart and funny and great fun to be with will be out next year with different mums, and I will miss them.
Of course, one of the brilliant things about women is that if you put a dozen of them at a table together, they will talk and laugh way past midnight, and nobody will notice the time slipping by. I’m under no illusion – nights like this will happen again with different women, and it will be just as good. But different. I keep telling my daughter that it’s okay to be sad, it’s good to let it out, and then get ready to accept the change. I need to do the same, and for me, that means parking it here – writing it down, cementing the memory. Wine and tapas and fun with the ones I know best and the ones I’ll miss most.
It’s one month since my daughter went back to school to her new class and despite her anxiety and sadness, it’s going better than expected. She still plays with her best pals in yard, but I’m hearing names of new pals now too. I think she’s starting to see that it’s not just about losing old friends, but also about making new ones. And after coffee with the mums from the new class last week, I’m inclined to follow my daughter’s lead – turns out everybody everywhere is up for tapas and wine!