It seems like a lifetime ago that I first made the decision to stay home with Ebony during the day. I gave up my much-loved day job, and instead decided that, for a few months at least, I would be home looking after Ebony. This was, at least in part, due to an inflated sense of self on my part, I just didn’t believe anyone else could look after Ebony as well as I could.
I can honestly say I haven’t regretted the decision for longer than a millisecond (which is about how long it takes to detangle my hair out from Ebony’s claws). I haven’t grown tired of my days with her, or wished away her childhood. Of course, some days were longer than others, and some bedtimes seemingly never ending,
Under my watchful eye, Ebony took her first few steps. She mastered walking, then running, and finally jumping. She learnt a few words, then managed to string together short sentences, then picked up a few choice words that were quickly discouraged, then started asking why. Her hair grew, she developed friendships, and she became an avid bookworm (who will happily spend hours looking through books, despite not being able to read).
School always seemed so far away. It was visible on the horizon, sure, but it wasn’t going to arrive anytime soon. And now, suddenly, it is. Ebony will be starting nursery in September, and I know that may seem like a long time away, but believe me, the years have flown by so far, and I’m not expecting any different over the next 11 months.
The thought of leaving Ebony at a nursery, even for just 15 hours a week, is quite terrifying. There’s a lot about nursery and school that I don’t feel comfortable with. The hierarchy, the authority figures, the obsession with three year olds being able to spell, and that fact that someone else will be eating into my Ebony time. And the fact that I won’t be there, to gently guide her past the gender stereotypes, or support her when she doesn’t want to abide by the arbitrarial class rules. The fact that all of the research I’ve done, the instincts I’ve followed, and the decisions I’ve made about parenting, will suddenly apply to only half of the week. And for the other half, mainstream child-adult relationships will win out, which I find to be a thoroughly depressing thought.
But, those are thoughts for another time. This post, today, is about these last fleeting months together before Ebony departs the nest (for five, three hour sessions a week). I seem to be asked on a weekly basis when Ebony will be starting nursery, and after months of saying ‘next September’, finally the days of saying ‘September’ are upon me. When it first dawned on me that Ebony would be starting at nursery next September, my first thought that this was our very last October together.
Melodramatic, perhaps, but it’s also true. Next year we won’t be able to go on day-long adventures, we’ll be stuck in the humdrum routine of pickups, drops offs and (the thing I most dread) trying to get uniforms washed and dried on time (why, why do three year olds need uniforms?! Gah).
Since realising that this is, in fact, our very last October, I have been trying to make the most of it. We’ve been charging about the woods, jumping through puddles, running through leaves, and playing witches. A lot. I know we’ll be able to do all of those things next year, of course, but I’m concentrating on making memories this year. I want her to be able to look back on this time together, and remember that it was magical. I want her to remember the fairy hunts in the woods (hunts is a bad word, we certainly weren’t intending to do anything violent should we encounter any fairies), the afternoons in the park, the hours spent cuddled up on the sofa reading stories, and the things we made together.
Other things can wait, because this is the last year I will have my little girl all to myself.