Sometimes you need a little time before you can write about something. Time to decipher the emotions, space to let things be long enough to see a clear path. Last week, when my youngest child started school, I really didn’t know how I was feeling. I was distracted by the 5yo having a wobble about her new class, mopping up tears and laughing shrilly about how this was all a lot of fun. As I pushed the 5yo through the door I glanced at the 4yo, hoping to see that she hadn’t contracted the collywobbles – she was unsure, willing to be persuaded – this was good.
Hurrying to her classroom I skirt the brand new parents, feeling the confidence of an old hand who knows the routine: Bookbag in blue box – check, water bottle in tray – check, name on board – check, child wrapped around leg in manner of small monkey – check…. oh hell.
Face fixed in a confident smile, voice notched up 57 octaves, I direct her over to her favourite TA. She relaxes a little, unwilling to relinquish her grip but open to suggestion. The TA seizes the opportunity, pulling her gently towards her, a quick kiss, love you and a hand squeeze and I’m away, bolting for the door, casting sympathetic smiles at those unable to tear themselves free.
Outside I breathe, stroll back to the car, start the engine and drive off without the usual check of seatbelts and smiles. I can listen to the radio station of my choice, chat to myself, drive in a slightly manic fashion and yet the car stays silent, the drive home sombre. I am not sad, nor happy, just a little bit numb.
This feeling pervades. I try to shake it, reminding myself that she’s been going to pre school regularly for ages now, away from me for the morning and often, again for the afternoon following a lunchtime bite and a snuggle. But this is different isn’t it? She’s begun her journey. Only days after her fourth birthday she’s entered a new world, one where my word will never again be gospel, where she will learn things beyond my realm of knowledge. She’ll come home full of chatter and laughs and she’ll teach me new things, she’ll make new friends and be hurt by things out of my control. She’ll dance to Abba in the morning air and when she falls over in the playground it won’t be me that picks her up and kisses her better, but I will tell her every day that I love her and I’m so proud of her.
I’m happy for her, but I miss her already. I miss her warm little body and the fact that she won’t speak to anyone but me. I want to see her blossom but I’m terrified of letting her go. She is my last, my third baby and already she’s telling me off for calling her that. My tears, when they come, are not for her, they are for me. For the younger woman who has just completed a rite of passage. I have said my goodbyes and acknowledged that I will never hold another of my own babies. I am done and now it’s time to watch my children grow, to learn with them, to make my mistakes and do my best to put them right.
Knowing me it will be an eventful ride, knowing you it will be beautiful…
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This is my entry for Tara’s Gallery. This week the theme is ‘Back to School’ *sob*