Ok now what? I just dropped my youngest off for her first day of kindergarten and I’m at a loss for what to do next.

This day has been eight and a half years in the making if I go from when my eldest was born. For all that time, my life has been in their hands, not the other way around. Everything I have done has been for them, with them, compromised by them, in consideration of them, juggled with their needs. My job was part-time because I may at any moment need to give myself back to them. My presence at their school or pre-school activities was also part-time for the opposite reason. I don’t resent a moment of that dependence on my time and on me personally; I adore my children, they are my hyperbolic everything. But this is my time now.

So here I am. Redundant from employment, redundant from full-time parenting. I have 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, for myself. I have a million things to do, and yet nothing. The house is tidy, the cupboards are organised, the car is booked in for a service, the shopping has been done, the children are in their institutions. You see, the more I had to juggle, the more I achieved.

I hung around in the playground after drop off this morning, unsure about how to proceed with this day, with this life. I found it difficult to walk out of the school gates because once I did, I would have no choice but to enter the next phase. Do I continue to indulge my passion, even if I can’t turn it into a career? I have found my thing during brief captured moments over the last few months, but I have really only had the head space to focus on it since 10am this morning; now I have no excuse, no one else’s needs to cater to, no other demands between 9.30 and 3.30. Or do I return to a job that doesn’t light a fire in my gut, but will allow me to regain the financial independence and contribution of pre-kids days?

Four months have passed since I left the paid workforce, and now the inevitable rot of imposter syndrome has set in, blocking all my pathways. The fear of rejection, of not succeeding, is central in my field of vision. I had a purpose that filled my days up until today that didn’t require me to face my fears; it is a difficult emotion to process, not knowing what you bring to the table.

So instead I am standing on the playground; I’m looking away from the unchartered road ahead of me and kicking the dirt beneath my feet. I am distracted, not by anything, but because of everything. I think it will take a while for eight and a half years of child-induced fog to clear from my mind, to learn how to embrace the time I have away from the children and work out where I fit in again as a parent, as a useful member of society. I need to learn how to be me again. Today is the first day of the rest of my life.