School gate heartbreak: My little girl cant wait to say goodbye

It turns out I have a five-year-old who is ready to leave the nest.

I don’t know where she gets it from… but it’s certainly not from me. I’ve been an emotional wreck these last few weeks- yes, I’m that type of parent. The one you either react to with an eye-roll or by crying, ‘SAME’. Of course, there were hugs and even tears as we waved goodbye to our little ones in the pastel-painted hallway. But neither the tears (thankfully) nor the hugs (a little less thankfully) came from my daughter.

My little girl let go of my hand the second we were inside the school gate. She sped ahead, weaving through the navy pinafores and giant glittering back-packs until I lost sight of her. I tried to stop and take it in, so I could have a half-decent memory of this supposedly important milestone. My only baby was no longer a baby. She was also no longer interested in being a baby, or even a child for that matter.

She didn't make eye contact with me for the entire duration of drop-off.  I waved frantically from the classroom door, through which she had bounded and taken her little wooden seat. She saw me, her silly mum looking totally out of place, begging for a nod of acknowledgement or a tiny smile. She ignored this and scrambled in one of the shiny boxes of crayons that were neatly set up on each desk. She spoke to the other tiny humans that surrounded her, her little, plaited head buried in the crayon box until she found a ‘sky blue’. Those other tiny humans clutched their mummy's legs and smiled unsurely at the teacher, more concerned about their impending independence than my daughter's conversations.

I hovered uselessly until I couldn't hover any more. I cried big fat tears on the walk home, and my mum rolled her eyes, insisting I be nothing but joyous that my daughter was happy to go to school. I know I should be delighted. I know how lucky I am to have raised a mini-teenager with a Beyoncé-level of independence and Lizzo-style confidence. It’s wonderful.

And yet…

She is my only baby, and I can’t help but feel like her babyhood was over too quickly. Instead of holding mine, her little hands grip the straps of her ridiculously large school-bag that looks like a glitter-dragon threw up on a rainbow-unicorn. It was as if the idea of school made her grow a little more each day these past few months, and gearing her up to face the world without me.

Someone else will be her adult for a few hours every day, and it will be totally different from the mummy/baby set up we’ve had all summer. I know its selfish, wanting to cling on to that tiny hand for as long as I can. However, I know there are so many of us mums out there who could do with another million years of being someone’s anything and everything.



With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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