My girl is starting school tomorrow, and it’s a shock. It shouldn’t be. It’s not as if we haven’t known that it’s coming; Emilia has been eagerly waiting for it all year.
In fact, I’ve been so certain that she’s ready for school that I haven’t been worried about it at all. But I forgot one crucial thing – that I have to be ready for it too.
School is a mark in the sand. It completes the change from baby / toddler life to little girl, and it makes it very real.
Gone are the days of endless feeding and cuddles. Of nappies and changing, and doing everything with one hand.
We survived the incessant lack of sleep (and there have been years of it). Hour after hour spent with eyes wide open, night after night, with every remedy tried and every remedy failed.
Gone are the days when she called me “mama” (I loved it – I felt all European), and water “abois” (I still have no idea why). And gone are the days that Emilia screeched as I left the room and refused to be comforted by anyone else.
We survived the 5pm witching hour when the only way to settle her would be to put her in the buggy and stomp up the big hill in the pitch black of winter, with the rain, wind, snow and hail in my face.
We survived the potato wars, where potatoes were found anywhere but where they should be. The washing machine even survived the rice and the toys it ended up cooking in with the whites wash. Oh, and there was Emilia’s body art phase too.
Our house survived the baby lead weaning. The baked beans that would rain down across the kitchen. The noodles that wriggled down the walls and the yoghurt that got stomped into the carpet.
Gone are the afternoons without end. The ones spent with her baby friends (and my amazing mama friends) eating, chatting, moaning, laughing, and us all getting through what is one of the most challenging (if amazing) things we’ve ever done.
We survived the days when she was jealous of her new baby brother. The days when she’d stand in front of me and look me right in the eye as she put her legs far apart and then wee all over the carpet.
And gone are the days when she’d put on her crown and cape, clench her fists, and earnestly sing “Let it Go”. Repeatedly.
Babies and toddlers are like cubs. They’re completely animalistic in their needs of constant food, contact and care. Then comes the toddlerhood gambling and falling, and the new words that only their parents understand. Their wide eyes and complete need of you make the days intense, amazing, beautiful and utterly exhausting.
I thought it would last forever. But it didn’t.
Suddenly, standing in front of me is a little girl. She has emerged out of her cub-like form and is somehow completely human. I’m surprised by it every day. Her thoughts, her strangely insightful words, her observations, and her sense of humour. Her complete adoration and protection of her little brother (most of the time) that is so beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, there are still days that are stressful and difficult, but here she is.
This is her.
One of the things I’ve found most shocking is that I like her. I’ve always loved her, of course, but now I fully enjoy her company as a person. Chatting, playing, exploring, and learning from her… Seeing things as she does.
Just as we reach this magical point, I have to share her with the world. School is whisking her off for new adventures with new people who will fill her life and thoughts day after day. Her world is beginning to separate from mine a little, and she’s completely ready for it. I just need to catch her up.
Good luck my bonnie lass. You’re brilliant – go and show the world what you can do.