Today was the big day (04/09/2019). The girls’ dad was dropping them off at school today, but I sneaked into the playground. As my youngest, the school starter, shouted Mummy at me from across the playground, I burst into tears.
I couldn’t help it. Seeing her in her slightly large school uniform, standing confidently, she no longer looked like the four year old I had left with her dad on Sunday. I pulled her close into my hug and she just kept repeating my name. My crying didn’t scare her or make her emotional; I think she was just a bit confused. As I wished her good luck for her first day and explained I would be picking her up after lunch, I couldn’t look back. I headed towards my eldest’s line for her first day in Year 2. She stood, surrounded by her classmates, feeling confident and ready to be back. I was unable to be at her first morning of school because I was working three days a week back then, so “Mummy guilt” hit me hard then and today. However, she hasn’t mentioned it, so I’m not sure if she actually remembers or not.
The bell rang. I still couldn’t look over to her, but knew her dad was there. I waited with my eldest until her line went in and when I finally looked over, Little (that’s what she used to get called by her big sister) had skipped in. Weighed down with her book bag, PE kit and welly boots, she took it all in her stride. As I walked away, I saw another parent in tears and that set me off again. But no more tears now until the Nativity play!
As I stood waiting amongst the other parents after lunch, we chatted about what we had managed to get done with our few hours of free (!) time. Then the sound of tiny feet in brand new school shoes appeared, getting louder and louder, with a few giggles thrown in for good measure. Our babies were coming back to us. Some covered in their lunch, others wearing someone else’s coat. But, they all came back… and that’s what us parents need to remember. It doesn’t matter if they are at school or nursery or even university, our children will always be our babies regardless of age or location.
Little declared she’d had a wonderful day at school. The food was some sort of meat with vegetables and a fruit salad. Lunchtime had brought her sister into the mix and she was able to play with familiar faces. When I asked what her teacher had said to her, she replied, “Go to the toilet!” and proceeded to tell me all about the toilet within the classroom.
Exhausted from the routines of school, when we arrived home, she lay on the sofa for a little while watching some television and eating a snack. She wanted to be close to me, snuggled in and I breathed in the love, the affection and the fact that I am still very much needed by my daughters. It was quality time together. Then all of a sudden, it was time to go and collect my eldest. We giggled on the way back to school and chatted about the different colours we could see, challenging each other to find something in a certain colour. The arrival of not one but two tractors was her favourite part; she beamed from ear to ear.
And so… the first day went well. She was shattered and was very challenging when it came to bedtime. However, I know that she is in good hands and they will nurture and care for her just as they did my eldest. In our local primary school, we trust. Today, memories filled my time… from her birth to breastfeeding her, from her cutting her first tooth and then starting nursery, and from her starting swimming lessons to her first day at preschool. These experiences and encounters are precious; they will stay with me forever.