On the Couch with Jasminda

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Do you have a pressing problem, annoying anxiety or community conundrum?

Jasminda Featherlight, our resident roving Agony Aunt, is here to help. Jasminda will be responding to questions from our three News Of The Area papers on a rotating basis. This week’s problem comes from Pindimar. Send your concerns to Jasminda care of edit@mcnota.com.au and include your title, initials and suburb.

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Dear Jasminda,

My little girl started school this week and I’m at a loose end. It’s the first time my house has been kiddie-free since she was born. Help!

Mrs VT, Pindimar

Dear VT,

I can remember the exact moment when I realised I needed to stop being a stay-at-home mum and go back to work.

It was when the storyline of Bear in the Big Blue House became important to me.

I was gaining one plot, but losing another.

Those first weeks, armed with a briefcase and a breast pump, were hard.

Being separated from your offspring is no walk in the park, whether it is because you are returning to work or study and they have to be put into childcare, or they are starting school and the nest is suddenly empty.

A lot of this comes down to that unfortunate condition known as ‘mother guilt’.

We are guilty when we go to work and we are guilty when we don’t.

We are particularly guilty if, like you, we feel as though we have some free time on our hands.

Don’t you worry, VT. In no time at all you’ll be whipping up 24 choc-chip cookies, teaching voluntary ethics classes and driving to three different inter-school activities in one day, because schools love parental involvement and if you’ve got a void, trust me, they’ll fill it.

Having your little cherub at school can initially involve a period of grief.

But then, one day, you’ll say, “I’ll miss you, sweetheart”, and you’ll try not to let her see that little skip in your step as you hotfoot it home.

And then you’ll put on a load of washing, clean the house in one hour instead of the usual five, and dance around in your husband’s Y-fronts, singing into a candelabra like you’re Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

And that, VT, is when you know you’ve reached the ‘acceptance’ stage of the grieving process.

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