Motherhood, fear and overthinking: the school decision

We are in the midst of making one of the most important decisions we have ever had to make so far for Jasmine, her Primary school choice, and the significance of this decision has been weighing heavy on my shoulders. This is the thing with parenthood, isn’t it, that as they happen and as they unfold, particular moments can bear so much significance that they can become all-consuming. Over the last few weeks and months, ever since the day the letter arrived telling us that it was time to choose Jasmine’s school, I have spent many an hour considering this decision to the point where at times, the enormity of it all (or so it seems) has become overwhelming. I have not been able to switch off my over-analysis of each detail, each conversation and each classroom and have become ‘stuck’ on issues that have left me feeling exhausted, depleted and confused. I have sought reassurance from family and friends, hoping that someone would just say something that would ultimately help me decide. Yet deep down I already know that no matter how difficult it seems now and no matter how much it really does matter to me (and Jasmine), significant choices and significant moments in our children’s lives don’t stay significant forever. The choices, big decisions and memorable moments that once too all felt so mega, are now just smaller parts of our bigger journey, most likely etched in my memory as a Mother and erased almost entirely from Jasmine’s.

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So why then, despite knowing this, do I find myself so stuck when it comes to making Jasmine’s school choice? Why the overthinking to the point of driving myself crazy with it all? Why can’t I just make the final decision? Of course, I want the very best for her, just as all parents do for their child. We all love our kids beyond measure. We want them to thrive, reach their potential, succeed in life and ultimately to feel safe, secure, happy, loved and understood, be it at school or at home. But there’s just something so big about choosing a big school, after all, it’s where Jasmine, and then Summer, will soon be spending the majority of their time throughout their childhood. It’s the place that will harness what will hopefully be their love of learning, nurture their individualities, challenge their ever-developing brains and provide a well-rounded, fun, supportive and engaging environment, right?

But I am still terrified of getting it wrong. Even when being faced with the fortunate option of various good schools, I am still afraid to make the wrong decision. There is no crystal ball with Motherhood. There is no way of seeing our kids in the future or truly knowing that they’ll be “just fine.” Everything feels like a slight gamble, as if we’re placing bets on the best chance of a win, without ever really knowing what’s around the corner. It is certainly all a big exercise in releasing control over the things we, well, cannot control at all.

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So whilst I do think that careful consideration of a school choice and trying to find the best fit for your child (especially if they err on the side of sensitive) is vital and ultimately a huge expression of our deep love for our kids, there are several things that have helped bring my crazy overthinking brain back to more of a neutral place:

  • School is a big part of a child’s life, but it isn’t everything. There will be plenty of time and opportunities for Jasmine to learn from us as her parents and from her wider community and for us to enrich her life with a variety of experiences that will also forge her sense of identity, her desire to learn and play, and encourage her to embrace her uniqueness.
  • In a world where millions of children, and even more girls, are denied access to education at all, being faced with choosing between one good school and another becomes a relatively good problem to have. Sometimes looking at the bigger picture can really help to tone down our very valid, but often exaggerated concerns.
  • I trust in Jasmine’s ability to thrive, just as she is now, and to develop resilience when things don’t quite go to plan. I know that wherever she goes to school, not everything will always be plain sailing and that is, just life.
  • I trust in my ability as her Mother to nurture the child I know and love more than anyone else in the world. I know that I will sense her happiness or unhappiness and I know that I will always advocate for her, support her and be a part of her school journey with her, wherever that may be.
  • The significance of this decision will fade over time. As she brings home her homework and talks about her friends, as she learns to sound out words and learns how to add numbers, the weight on my shoulders will lessen and the joy of watching my first baby enter this huge new chapter of her life will take over instead.
  • It is a privilege to have a child whose “normal” needs will be met without me needing to fight for her. There are parents out there, many of whom I know and work with, for whom this decision really will be a monumental choice and where each and every detail about a school really can make a difference for their child.
  • I recognise the role of fear in the mix of this decision and I know that fear is our mind’s way of protecting ourselves from things we cannot predict or control. I fear her reaction to another big change, to bigger classrooms and to pressure to perform. I fear not being a part of her day or that she won’t tell me things that happen. I fear that I will miss out on her, hugely. But I also know that FEAR is just false evidence appearing real and the antidote to fear is to not only lean into it but to trust in the gut feelings that exist within us too, that everything will be absolutely OK.

When there is fear, there is work to be done on ourselves so that we can ease into these moments with greater understanding, focussing more on our children and their reality than on ourselves and the projections of our own fears. No one said it would be easy but it’s difficult because we care so much and that certainly makes me feel better.


An over-watered flower doesn’t bloom

I started this year determined to have a year of growth, of huge personal and professional development and a year I could look back on and say “YES” as opposed to “I wish I’d done better.”

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In January I feel as if I were a little seed ready to sprout underneath the soil, buzzing with naive excitement about the year ahead and convinced that what I was choosing to nurture myself with was the best of the best. I had big goals, determination and a sense of momentum that was keeping me firmly in the driving seat. I started a happiness project, I subscribed to the best ‘personal growth’ podcasts I could find, I read books (not enough), I journaled regularly, I took online quizzes and I continued to share my innermost thoughts and opinions on social media with the desire to inspire others to grow with me along the way. And this has been the way of things for pretty much the last 11 months. Grow grow grow. Don’t look back. Keep going. Keep learning. Be better. Do more. Do better.

To say it has been a lot is probably an understatement. On top of raising two young children, moving house and becoming self-employed, I have chosen to dive headfirst into learning, and at times, this year has felt more intellectually stimulating than my entire 4 years at University combined. My journals are full of reflective musings, notes I’ve taken from all the podcasts and books, my weekly goals and intentions and all those big epiphany moments that keep coming, even now. I can almost see the change in myself through the pages of my journal, yet I’m really just the same, but what I know has changed. Mostly too, it’s been amazing. The feeling of having an “aha” moment or learning something that shakes my core feels like I’m literally being propelled forward into a world once unknown and in truth, it’s kind of addictive!

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Recently though, I feel like I’ve over-watered myself because I’ve forgotten to pause to let things settle before continuing. I feel like the soil in which I’m living is now totally saturated and as a result, I’m feeling lost, stuck and unable to bloom, sometimes barely even able to move. There’s struggle instead of ease and there’s some pain instead of all the joy, and instead of feeling a balance of satisfaction and expansion, I’m beginning to feel the need to take a deep, long pause, to re-centre, to allow the excess water to drain away and the soil to recover.

I’m reminded again of one of my favourite quotes: “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” – Lao Tzu

So why have I been rushing? Rushing towards becoming a version of myself I firmly believe exists but without taking into account all the unexpected twists and turns along the way. In rushing to learn and absorb all the wisdom in the world, I’ve forgotten the need to practice it all too, because simply listening, reading and talking about things is not the way to truly grow.

So what now? I can’t stop. It’s too late for that. Growth and self-discovery is exhilarating after all and I’m committed to it because I DO believe if done with self-care and attention, this journey can be thrilling and powerful. A growth journey can continually challenge what we think we know and believe about the world. It can encourage us to reflect deeply on who we are and it can open doors along the way that allow us to expand and reevaluate what we really want from life. A growth journey pushes us to be ever open-minded, to seek the knowledge that lights our brains up and fuels our passions and interests that we have the luxury to choose for ourselves, as adult learners of the world.

“A commitment to lifelong learning is a natural expression of the practice of living consciously.” – Nathanial Branden 

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Are many of us truly living to our fullest potential? Are we devoid of limiting beliefs and staring our deepest fears in the face? Or do we find ourselves sticking with the route most trodden, the safe and easy path? That’s the thing about wanting to bloom, isn’t it? We want to rush because the promise of what lies ahead tempts us there but we forget that the journey may last an entire lifetime, that each day we seek to learn something new and get through the ups and downs, is a day we are no longer the same person as the day before. That is growth. 

As we approach the end of another year I feel it’s the right time for a pause. There’s little more I can learn from another “chase your dreams” podcast or another “how to conquer your day” blog, but there is much to be gained from deep practice and from looking inward instead of constantly just seeking more. That is the true lesson here and that is the more difficult part of all.

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Operation day

Dear Jasmine,

I’m writing you another letter because that’s what I find helps me when I’m feeling sad and heavy-hearted, as I am tonight. We’re so similar, you and me, with our sensitivities and our emotions. We feel things deeply and strongly and that’s a beautiful thing my sweet girl. I struggle sometimes to feel the way I do, to feel every ounce of your emotion and pain as if it were my own and to feel intensely sad about sad things. I sometimes wish I could switch off my overthinking brain and things might be easier, more black and white and more straightforward, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?

Read More





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