I don’t know quite how it has happened, but that beautiful little baby girl I welcomed into my living room four years ago is almost old enough for school. Time grew distorted as soon as I became a mama. While some days seemed to stretch on for all eternity, four years has flown by in a flash. And now, that clay-covered baby who stared up at me in the birthing pool all those years ago, whilst I unwittingly covered her in happy tears, is growing up.
Long gone are the days of unsure footing as she toddles on the pavements, these days she strides ahead of me, barely stopping at corners to see whether I’m behind her. She doesn’t look back nervously over her shoulder to make sure she’s safely under my watchful eye at the park anymore, instead, she bellows me from the terrifying height of the tree to show me how high she can climb. She doesn’t always need me to cuddle her better when she falls, these days she rubs her own knee before running off to play again.
She loves her independence and enjoys the challenge of doing things for herself. She is strong-minded and is not easily persuaded to do something she doesn’t want to do. This is, admittedly, frustrating at times, but I hope it’s an attribute she carries with her for life. I hope her future friends struggle to manipulate her with peer pressure just as I have struggled to get her to put her shoes on in the morning.
She is a thoughtful little girl and I’m often surprised by how deeply she thinks about things. At bedtime, after stories, when she lies in my arms to await sleep, we lie in silence. Often, that silence is interrupted by a question or a thought from Ebony as she processes her day in her mind. It’s interesting to hear the things she thinks or the events that have been bothering her throughout the day, and it’s very rarely the things I would expect to hear from her. She is unpredictable and even though I feel I know her better than anyone, I am constantly surprised by her.
At the moment, she attends nursery in the morning. I work in the mornings and then pick her up before lunch. Then we have the rest of the day together, just me and her. I feel so lucky to have had all this time with her and will forever be grateful (and proud) that we managed to find a way for me to stay home with her during these early years. I have been there every single step of the way and I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to have had that opportunity.
But now, it’s time for her to move on. From September, I won’t have her as my afternoon buddy anymore. Instead, she’ll be starting school full-time. She’ll be spending most of her waking hours each weekday under the care of someone. And I find that a little terrifying. She’ll be eating lunch with her friends, playing in the playground and then heading back to the classroom for even more learning. I won’t get to pick her up until much later in the day when we’ll steal a few hours together before bedtime.
She has been offered a place at the school we wanted. I’m pleased, but also disappointed because I was hoping they would respond with “Your child is not old enough for school just yet, please re-apply in three years.” But they didn’t. She’s old enough to join the system and she’s excited to join it. She’s excited about having longer with her friends, going into the class for big girls and boys and learning more. She’s ready. I’m not.
It’s surreal to think that this has come round so quickly. It really doesn’t feel like four years have passed since she changed my world. It all still feels so new, this whole mothering thing. I’m really going to miss my best friend when she starts school in September.