I can’t believe it’s September already and I’m going back to school.
Not back to school as in ‘ after 6 weeks off we are going back to school for a new term’, but as in, I left that school gate at 18 with a shirt graffiti’d by all my mates and now I’m walking back through it as a Mum; albeit past the secondary school, over the juniors playground and stopping at the infants. Weird.
It’s such a cliché, the emotional rollercoaster you feel as a Mother watching your four year old fledging all fluffy and cumbersome, waddling along in their oversized uniform on that first day. We knew the day would come, but we can’t really believe it’s here already.
She of course dealt with the whole fiasco pretty amazingly. Each time someone asked her how she was feeling about starting school, her face said it all… “That question AGAIN?!”. After all, it’s not the first time she’s started a new chapter of independence.
There were anxieties of course, mainly fuelled by me panicking about her preference to use fingers or teaspoons over knives and forks (the paperwork said that the kids should be able to use cutlery independently). That and the fact that the butt wiping situation isn’t quite nailed. Do we send a PE kit on the first day? When does it come home? Will she ever manage with those shirt buttons? Winter or summer uniform? Yes – it’s fair to say Mum was stressing way more than her. The only thing we were confident in was the hair braiding, having had four years of wrestling with some pretty immense toddler hair.
Other Mums got on board the school-panic-ride with me. Some devastated about their babies being so grown up, some whoop whooping the fact the ‘hard bit’ is over. It made me realise I felt a little bit of all those emotions rolled into one.
So the first day has been and gone. No tears, no disasters (apart from writing the wrong class number on all her new uniform with permanent marker). We got the all important first day photo. We navigated the school run which was as crazy as I had been expecting. We posted her through a doorway to the unknown, into the hands of strangers and survived. She has made (in her words) “over a thousand friends” and seems up for week two. Not bad going for a mum and daughter muddling through.
So now, it’s quiet in the house. Just me and the mouse, who’s desperately looking for her sister, her best friend, her playmate. I don’t think she appreciates the gift that will be ‘mummy time’ just yet. And Me? I’m wondering what I’m going to do without the one person who knows how to talk her little sister out of any tantrum, get her to lay down for the all important nappy change, and play with her so beautifully (whilst dodging the odd left hook).
And yet, although with a touch of sadness, and a bit of excitement about her new adventure and our new daily pattern complete with new friends we are all yet to meet, my overwhelming feeling is pride. In her and her ability to take it all in her stride, and in myself in having got this far in one piece.
It’s been an amazing summer holiday holding on to the last few weeks of my first baby being just a little bit tiny. Quite frankly, I’m going to miss her. It’s opened my eyes to living in the present and not wishing a single day away – however hard that seems at times.
It’s the end of one era, but the start of a new one. One where I am that school run Mum, sewing name badges haphazardly onto the back of ties because I ordered the iron on labels way too late. Of course, always predictably, ridiculously early to drop off…and DEFINITELY first in the queue to bring her home.