Bound for Morningtown

Well, my child, you start school in the morning. You are, you tell me, ‘so excited’. Buoyant, intrepid, boundingly enthusiastic; light of my heart, you are, by and large, quite ready to spread your wings; this small sorrow is my lament, and mine alone.

Your father and I were, unusually, singing for a most perplexed and unimpressed you a couple of evenings back, songs from an album that we both had as children. And although we merely gave you rousing renditions of the comedic ones, the Seekers’ Morningtown Ride was also on the album

 and likely contributed significantly towards the early construct of safety and contentment built by my childhood psyche. I have always found the track relaxing and oddly poignant, and it appears that, even now, I find the notion of a sleeping child, travelling long distances at sundown, loaded with hypnotic charm.

Driving back home from London, heading north, the sun sinking to our left, I saw your sleeping face in my mirror, fathoms deep, and knew you to be tranquil, safe, warm, stuffed with your favourite junk food, contented; your jumbled stories of expanded horizons ready to spill out to your father when you woke.

Mellow, extremely tired, and terribly Clomid-sentimental-maudlin, I felt I wanted to chase the sunset always, with you tucked peacefully, barefoot, comfy, blanketed and snug behind me, forever suspended together, rocking, rolling, riding.

Huffy, animated, interested and exhausted: you, the country boy, steadily negotiated our frenetic capital city, pattering jerkily yet unwaveringly along, grasping my hand, unphased. It was so important to me to spend that time with you, and, while I mourn the lost possibilities of my failed pregnancy for your sake as well as mine, I also know I could not have made that journey with you alone while pregnant – and so we have gained, you and I together, as well as lost.

You are starting a far longer journey than that now, my little traveller, one so big that you cannot comprehend it. The first, small, one-day step takes you a metaphorical – and actual – mile from the shelter of home, and while I am immoderately proud and pleased to watch you rush confidently toward your new worlds, in doing so, you are beginning to leave mine, and I feel such selfish anguish that I cannot envelop you in some imaginary, endless childhood utopia with me.

Somewhere there is sunshine,
Somewhere there is day,
Somewhere there is Morningtown,
Many miles away.

You’ll be absorbed and kinetic on arrival tomorrow, I know, re-acquainting, exploring, scurrying; so, please God – let me not cry anywhere you can see me.

21 Responses

  1. Good luck to you tomorrow, my dear.

  2. I was crying watching my daughter be stoic in the face of saying goodbye to her favorite pre-school teacher. I am heartily glad that my husband gets to take her for her first day at her new pre-school.

    Good luck keeping it together…although who would fault you for sobbing your heart out? 🙂

  3. Those of us whose children have faced fewer challenges than Harry shed tears on the first day of school. Harry will cope with any tears because you will be smiling as well. Forget the stiff upper lip and have a good weep – make sure you have a clean hanky!

  4. I am thinking of you this morning.

    Dauntless Harry, good luck at school, and lots of friends and fun and interesting things to learn.

    Oh, Ann. He’s a school-boy. I could weep with you, you’ve written this so beautifully. And you should be very proud you’ve raised such a curious, eager, friendly child. And oh, how strange and wrenching to let him begin going off into the future without you.

    (Clomid makes you maudlin? Interesting. It always made me homicidal. I think this proves you’re a nicer person than I am).

  5. This post and song made me sob. I remember singing this with my parents and also my boys first days at school. I feel such melancoly now my children are back at school

  6. Hold it together until he is gone, and then have a nice cry on your own. And then eat something you wouldn’t give a child, wash your face and get ready for his homecoming. I am on my second generation of getting children off to school, and I confess to doing a little jig after Grandchild got on the bus. In a couple of years I won’t be able to do the jig, In 40 years you’ll face school mornings with equanimity.

  7. Have to have a bit of a sniff myself now. Lovely post!

    Everyone has to have a little weep when the first goes to school, especially when that first has had a bit of a rough ride. I remember looking at my own particular special snowflake when he marched into school for the first time, and all I could see was that pathetic little scrap in the incubator all covered in tubes. But I smiled and waved, then had a sniffle in the car. With all the other mothers doing the same!

    I sing “Morningtown ride” every single night when he gets into bed. It’s our thing. I used to have to sing it on a continuous loop with “Rainbows” (Kermit’s song) in the bad old days when he wouldn’t go to sleep on his own, but now I can get away with the single rendition. That I still like it is testament to the niceness of the song!

  8. Made me cry…
    Hugs x

  9. Go Harry! Go you!

  10. Sweet sorrow.

    Good luck, intrepid boy, good luck.

  11. Gave me goosebumps. Thanks for your lovely writing.

  12. I just followed all the youtube links, and do you know what I think? I think I must have had that very same album. They were all terribly terribly familiar. In my mind, I hear them mostly in the voices of my siblings, singing along.

  13. This is – of all of your most amazing writings – without question the most beautiful post. I think you should print it out and leave it in a book for Harry, so someday when he’s older, he has something to remind him how very much his mummy loves him.

  14. It is a very beautiful post. It sounds as if Harry has come a long way since I started reading your blog and that’s so wonderful to read about. I’m so glad he’s excited about his first day. I hope there’ll be pictures! Can’t wait to hear about his adventures at school!

    Intrepid boy, indeed. Go get ’em, Harry!

  15. what a beautiful post. I envy you your sadness. Truly I do. I cannot wait for mine to go and never cried when they had their first day! I love em to bits but gad I am looking forward to the peace. Hope he is having a fantastic

  16. How did he do? What happened? Inquiring minds, etc..

  17. Late to the party but I do hope all went ok. I read your words and just know I will be standing in the same shoes very shortly. That would explain my tears then!

  18. This was lovely. But how has the first week been? Does he do full days straight off or is it phased? Did you cry? Nosey readers enquire!
    I always feel a bit hard hearted as I am not one for crying at the start of school for any of mine so far – when leaving schools on the other hand I am a wreck.

  19. Not sure how I missed this post but I did and am so grateful. You have beautifully captured the tiny meaningful moments that we too often miss in our headlong rush towards the very next thing we must do or place we must be.

    Your gorgeous boy will win hearts left, right and centre, you’ll see. He’ll work out for himself what his rough edges are and amend them. Or not. But it will all be very much ok!

    Love to all.

  20. That first sentence should read “…so grateful to have caught up.” My brain has shattered into multiple shards recently and I can barely tie my shoelaces as a consequence. I suspect the Old People’s Home awaits.

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