Our last summer

This week we found out about my daughter’s primary school place. 

In the run-up to the decision I had been a bit sick with worry about where she would end up. 

Now we know we have our second choice school. I’m pleased with this, although it’s not as close as our preferred option which was so oversubscribed we didn’t come close to getting a place even though we live one mile away. 

Our second choice school is lovely. It’s a small infant school and when I looked around I got a sense that my daughter would be happy and do well there. 

And yet even though the news was good, I still felt a bit odd. There was a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach, like something still wasn’t right. 

Was it that I had made a mistake in putting this school down as our second favourite choice? Had I missed something about the school and actually it’s totally rubbish?

No, it was none of those things. 

I realised the reason for this niggling feeling of impending doom is that my baby girl is growing up and I’m not ready for it. Not one bit. 

She’s the one who made me a mother. She’s the one who proved to me I am a good mother, despite all of my doubts when I was pregnant that I could actually do this. 

I still remember holding her that first time after nearly 24 hours of labour. She felt fragile in my arms and as she stared at my with her huge blue eyes I knew immediately that I could never imagine life without her in it. 

I left my full-time job last year and since then we’ve spent the vast majority of every week together. She does just two mornings a week at nursery. I’m not sure how to explain to her that soon she will be doing five full days at school. 

My daughter has a vastly different personality to her sister, who smiles with delight whenever I tell her that she’s off to nursery today. 

Instead she frowns and goes very quiet. She says she’s shy and the other children sometimes don’t want to play with her. 

I always reassure her I will be picking her up after lunch, and then we will have the entire afternoon together. 

Her usual response is to sigh and say: “I just want to stay with you, mummy.”

How then will she feel about five days a week away from me? 

Logically of course I know that she will adapt. I know that most parents have this hesitancy about their kids starting primary school. I know that this is a normal part of growing up, one that will give her so much fun and happy memories. 

But I still don’t want it to happen. I want time to stand still so that I don’t reach that moment; that final goodbye at the school gates as she walks away from me in her brand new uniform looking so grown up. 

When I do reach that moment, I hope I won’t be the only parent trying not to cry.

We still have more than four months to go until my spectacular breakdown at the school gates, so until that rather embarrassing moment I will be soaking up as much quality time as I can. 

It’s tough when you work from home and are a stay-at-home mum to “treasure every moment” and I know I won’t be able to do that – many days will end with a stiff drink and a huge sigh of relief that the kids are in bed. What I will try to do is get us outside to enjoy as many fun things as we can. 

We’ll go for walks, visit new places, get the scooters out to race up and down the road outside our house and go swimming. 

And when I do get those niggling feelings in the pit of my stomach, I will remind myself that no matter what she will always be my little girl. 

If you’re in a similar position with a little one starting school in September and it feels as if your entire life is about to get turned upside down, you’re not alone. 

This might feel like the last summer, in my head that’s what I keep calling it. But it’s really not.

Starting school is a big milestone in growing up, but it doesn’t mean your child is grown up just yet. They will still need you for cuddles, they will still need you to tuck them in at night and they will still want to play as many silly games as they can convince you to get involved with. 

Enjoy these next few months. And if you see a fellow mama crying at the school gates in September, remember to give her a hug. 

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