I remember Wednesday, 4th August 2010 like it was yesterday. And no, it’s not a special occasion or birthday in my family. It was the day that I dropped my baby girl to nursery for the very first time, aged 10 months old. It was also the day that I resigned from my career of 12 years. I hadn’t planned to do so when I dropped her at nursery, I hadn’t planned to do so when I arrived at work that day, my second day back from maternity leave. But I did. And I haven’t looked back since.
The following day I vividly remember feeling so, so happy and free. I’d been so sad and upset in the lead up to returning to work. I was determined that this would be the first day of doing all I could for my girl, and if she was missing out on the nursery experience, then I’d have to make it up to her somehow.
So we went to parks, went to playgroups, went to an array of classes, arranged play dates, but most of all, most of all we spent time together. I watched as she grew, she learned, she developed, she flourished. I was there for every single milestone, every single moment. Every scraped knee, every new story told, every new taste tried, every fear quashed, every lesson learned.
So why is it that I feel I’ve missed it? Why do I feel like I’ve wasted time, blinked and missed her growing up? Because tomorrow, my baby will be embarking on her biggest adventure yet, and I won’t be there with her to experience it all and smooth the way. Tomorrow she starts school.
I know that tomorrow everything changes. My constant companion will no longer be here, bouncing around me, singing, chattering away, and yes, oftentimes annoying me! She’ll be learning her lessons from someone else, learning things I have no influence over, making friends with people that I don’t know and just….well, just not being with me.
I yearn to turn the clocks back, yet time moves on inexorably and unapologetically.
And so I have a choice. I can dwell on what I am losing, or I can embrace what I am gaining.
I choose to embrace. I recognise that this is simply the next stage, a stage to enjoy and be proud of her. And I am well aware that I am so very lucky to have her in my life, to have her with me every day and that in the grand scheme of things, a child starting school is no biggy. She is happy, she is healthy, she will be fine, I will adjust.
My girl will grow, she will learn. She will soon be able to read and disappear into wonderful and magical worlds. She will make new friends, and she is a child that really enjoys meeting new people! She will grow away from me, but in doing so, her own personality will shine all the more brightly.
So here’s to tomorrow and the start of a new chapter.