A month ago I took Finley out of the school I was so very delighted to win a place for him at five years ago. To my mind then this school was a kind of educational utopia: the children meditated twice daily, did yoga to start the day and learned in rooms in which essential oils were diffused. The staff were special. So very special. And in the first two years Finley was in a classroom with a woman so nurturing she felt like a gift.
But little by little the school was seeped of its soul by government rulings that insisted that so much of what I sent Finley to school for was chipped away by the necessity to follow curriculum, and achieve results in tests that mean so very little, in order to maintain the Free School status that meant that children like Finn could attend without paying the fees the school had previously charged.
We all felt the prickly rash of change. There were rumblings on the playground and teachers once so dedicated began to look defeated. But it was when Finn made the move from the Primary school building to the Secondary school that I really began to doubt his future in this lovely tiny school. Because he began to focus not on his work but on playground gossip about naughty children. Because there was no excitement to be found in lessons taught by an ageing community of staff. Because one by one, women I respected were removing their children from an environment it was clear could not support those who wanted to be inspired and so desperately needed a vibrant, stimulating education.
And so with quaking heart, after half term, I simply didn’t send him back. We visited the local comprehensives and I chose the one that I thought would not overwhelm him after spending five years in a school with just 160 children between the ages of five and sixteen. And then I delivered my lovely little boy-man there a week later and left him sitting in reception with tears in his eyes: understanding why he had to be there, knowing that this was the right decision but still frightened out of his wits for what might become of him in a school that must have felt like a city.
Because sometimes we have to make difficult decisions don’t we? Sometimes we have to say this simply isn’t working. This isn’t good enough. We will not thrive if this continues. So I think it is ok to call time on even those decisions we were once so certain were the right ones. To walk away and not look back because our gut says no. The kind of grumbly, whiny noes we would be fools to ignore because no seeps into our blood and ignoring it allows disappointment and resentment to fester.
So yes, I think it is ok to give up on things. Not on a whim and often with heavy heart, but to give up on those things regardless if they are not fulfilling the promise we believed they had. I don’t think it makes us fools, and I do not mind about disappointing others to whom I owe nothing. I have learned that listening to one’s gut instinct is ALL that matters and when we ignore it, in an effort to please those who have agendas’ of their own, we do ourselves a disservice.
I am ready to give up on so much now and it feels like freedom. You see giving up is sometimes about offering ourselves permission to breathe again. And being able to breathe feels good. Moving house feels good. Selling the remnants of all my yesterdays feels liberating. Making the changes you will see here on BrocanteHome over the next few months after long consultation with people who know this business better than I do, and others who know me better than I do, feels joyful.
The day that Finn started his new school I stood outside waiting for him at the end of the day, barely able to breathe. I didn’t know what I would do if he had hated it. I didn’t know how I would apologise to him. Whether I could back-track. Whether back-tracking is ever the right thing to do. And kids poured out of this lovely, ordinary school, looking happy. And I shook a little. And then he came running towards me, a great big smile lighting up his face and I promptly burst in to tears and he laughed at his silly Mum and hugged me right there in the street and told me this was the best decision I had ever made and he was going to be happy.
And oh how happy he is. All the things he worried about: getting lost, never making another friend, not understanding work in lessons he had never experienced before, simply did not come to pass in a school which has supported him every step of the way over the last month. Each night he comes out of school beaming. Full of what he learned in maths. Excited about making fruit salad in cookery. Delighted with drama. Dedicated to handing homework in on time and all of a sudden taking responsibility for himself because he tells me, this school expects it of him. It expects him to be his bestest self. And though he misses meditation, he understands that he has a tool for life. That he owns that tool and can continue to rely upon all the good Transcendental Meditation will provide for the rest of his days.
Readers, I made a big, fat, life-changing, scary decision and it paid off. And over the next few months I am going to make lots more big, fat scary decisions too, because I know it is safe to trust my instincts now.
This then is what I want you to know: if you listen, if you really, really listen, your instincts are telling you what big, fat, scary decisions you need to take too, and I am here to tell you that now is the time to jump. Now is the time to trust your instincts too and set aside opinion and judgement.
For this way, joy lies. No regrets at all.