The countdown begins…
As I write this, in six days, 19 hours and 36 minutes my second-born, my baby, will start school. But it’s not like I’m counting down the seconds or anything.
As the last lazy days of our summer holiday slip through my fingers, I cannot help but think back to four years ago when we sent his big brother off on his first day of school. The wrench I felt that day was visceral; it was only the warmth and solidity of my freshly minted two-year-old’s hand in mine that centred me. The meaty little weight of his hand offered such immense comfort. Now, in less than a week, that same little hand will slip from mine at those same school gates. As I walk away this time, my hands will be empty but my heart will be full.
My heart will be full, not because I will get to enjoy a hot cup of coffee for the first time in around five weeks (although that will definitely come a close second). My heart will be full because it is an honour and a privilege to stand beside my children sharing these milestones with them. Having said that, it doesn’t make them any less bittersweet.
In these last weeks before he spreads his wings, I’ve been holding on a little tighter than I normally do. I am cuddling him way more, squeezing his cheeks too much, kissing him crazily and just drinking in the very presence of him. Because the truth of the matter is this: I will miss his company. I know I will be his touchstone at the start and the end of each day, but for all the hours in between I will miss his little face, his lovely laugh and his insightful observations.
Do you remember that feeling when you were a kid, trying to hold on to water in your hands? No matter how tightly you cupped them, no matter how hard you tried to seal up the cracks between your fingers, the water still seeped out. That’s how I feel now.
No matter how tightly I hold on to him, it is inevitable that he will still slip through my fingers in less than a week. When his hand lets go of mine that day, I will try to focus on the fact that it is right and good and the natural way of things. Because water is not meant to stay stagnant. It needs to move, it needs to flow so its true beauty can be fully enjoyed. And what a thing of beauty he will be, my boy.
On his first day, I know I will smile brightly and hug him (slightly too tightly) goodbye and tell him “Have a great first day, buddy!” because that’s all he’ll really need to hear from me.
But in my heart, oh in my heart, I will be saying:
"I could not be more proud to be your Mum. Spread your wings and do your very own thing. Use your beautiful nature, patience and life skills to navigate your newly expanded world. You will flourish my darling. You will grow. I know you will take your own sweet time to trust enough to share your gorgeous personality with your teacher and new friends. But honey, the light you have to shine is so bright and beautiful, they will be so happy when you let them see it. Let your light shine bright, darling boy.”
This silent farewell on his first day will mean I’ll probably offer up a watery smile to his lovely teacher as I entrust him to her care. Hey, I’ll be handing over a sizable piece of my heart that day, and let’s face it, I’m a crier. Water doesn’t stay stagnant, it flows, remember? Which is why I’ll probably be wearing sunglasses.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have only around six days, 17 hours and 28 minutes left before this first day happens. I have some serious squeezing to do.