This week is a week of firsts. Ebony stayed out overnight, all by herself, for the first time ever last night. She went to stay with my parents. I’ve never left her overnight before, but I’m pretty sure it was a bigger first for me than it was for her. While I surveyed my eerily quiet house, and busied myself with decorating, Ebony had lots of fun baking, playing and staying up (very, very) late. I thought it would be a good idea for them to bring her home when she asked to come back, to give her some control. Before she left, she gave me a cuddle and explained that she would miss me, and I would miss her, but that she would be back in the morning. She was not. She didn’t return until almost bedtime, proving that my little independent daughter is now perfectly fine away from my watchful eye.
I wasn’t too disappointed though, I did manage eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time since Ebony began, all those three long (but really short) years ago. And tomorrow we have another first to face. Her first day of preschool. I can’t quite get my head round the fact that the little baby who slept through four series of Grey’s Anatomy bundled up on my chest, is about to start preschool. This will be her first time in childcare. Until now she has always been with me, Laurie, grandparents or close friends, but tomorrow I’ll be handing her over to strangers.
She is excited about starting preschool, so excited. She will be attending with her best friend in the world, and I know that the two of them will be a force to be reckoned with. She is looking forward to being on her own with her best friend, and being picked up later so that she can tell me all about her morning. She’s excited about doing arts and crafts, playing with toys, singing and using the teeny tiny toilets (who wouldn’t be?).
I know that I will cry, hopefully after I’ve left the building. I really don’t want to be that mother crying and clinging onto their child’s leg (even though I am definitely that mother) while the staff try desperately to wrench her free.
This is it. The start of her independence. I remember when she first started to explore playgroups and parks by herself, always looking back to check I was still there. And tomorrow she will run off, hand in hand with her best friend, probably without looking back, as I stand with my binoculars pressed against the preschool window.
Because this is it, my baby is no longer a baby. She will have a life of her own, three hours of freedom each week. And then in a few months, she will be at nursery every week day, and then it will be time for school. And whatever comes after that. All of a sudden it all seems very near. And my tiny baby with the croaky cry seems so very distant.