My four-year-old daughter, Millie, finished pre-school a few weeks ago, and since then I have realised that I have entered into a whole new wave of emotions. All of these feelings – ups and downs, highs and lows are going on inside of me. I could actually feel it begin to brew as we were approaching her little graduation ceremony, signifying the end of her year there. My feelings took me by surprise as I had always regarded myself as this solid, steady type who never really got over-emotional and was able to take everything in her stride. But I was beginning to falter and the cracks were beginning to show.
As I sat and watched her sit with her friends and sing all of the songs they had practised for weeks, arms swaying in the air and doing all of the actions with such confidence, it suddenly started to hit me like a ton of bricks – she is really growing up. This notion I had been clinging onto for some time now that she was somehow still a baby was starting to slip away. I was watching it happen right before my eyes. This little girl was exactly that, a girl now and the baby was well and truly gone. And I started to feel so sad. And slightly panicked. Oh to the outside world I looked just fine, beaming actually. I was the proud and happy mother. But inside I was a big old mess. Weeping internally. She’s growing up and it’s happening too fast. Make it stop! I’m not ready!
As much as I was enjoying watching her perform all of the songs and rhymes that she and her teachers and class-mates had put so much work into, I realised that this really was the end. Pre-school is officially the end of baby-dom. After that you can’t fool yourself anymore. Which led me to the next dreadful thought that I had been skilfully avoiding for quite some time – she is starting school at the end of August. I have been pushing that one out of my head for a long time now. But it’s getting to a point where I can’t run from it anymore. And every time I think about it I begin to crumble a little inside, because the truth is I am dreading it. Absolutely dreading it. I know I should be excited and happy for her because she is embarking on a whole new chapter in her life full of discovery and wonder, but I’m not. The truth is I want her to slow down and stop progressing so quickly. I know that sounds selfish, I can recognise the selfish nature of it even as I write it. I just didn’t think this would all come around so quickly.
So I have had a long hard think about it and have come to an agreement with myself. When the day arrives, I am going to be happy - nervous and sick, but happy. I will help her put on her uniform, pack her lunchbox and help her to put her new school bag on her back. And I am going to walk through the gates of that school with her with a smile on my face, however hard it may be. Because that is what she needs and exactly what she deserves.
But on one condition – be my baby for the rest of the summer. Let me live with that sweet delusion for just a few weeks more. And then I will let go and let you continue to become the beautiful, flourishing little girl that you are. Just be my baby for a little while longer…