This week, the Boy went up to the playground at the beginning of school with the ‘big’ children. Up until now, the reception children have gone into school via their own little garden area, where we wait with them until they go in. Now they are beginning to make the transition into year 1 and are being prepared to move up the school. My baby boy is growing up! So, off he went, flanked by his two older sisters. I stood there waiting for him to turn and wave, he didn’t look back. When they reached the top of the sloping path that leads into the playground, I waited for him to stop and look down at me, he walked on. I waited, just in case, but he didn’t return for a final goodbye.
I walked home feeling strangely empty, a feeling that was unfamiliar. It wasn’t as though it was his first day at school, in fact, on his first day at school I remember feeling emotional, but a happy ‘beginning of a new era’ type of emotional. This feeling was different, it was the first time I’d felt a sense of ‘not being needed’. I’m not saying that, at 5 years old, my son no longer needs me. Just that he is beginning to become an independent little boy. I no longer have a baby in the house that is fully dependent on me and needs my constant attention. The last 10 years of my life have been centered on my children, their needs, developments and desires. As one child has developed, the next has still needed me in that constant way and I have been grateful for my girls’ independent natures and their confidence with new people and surroundings throughout their childhood. I hadn’t really felt that pang of emotion when the girls’ no longer needed me in that constant way, as someone else did!
Unlike many of my mummy friends, I loved the baby stage, especially the new-born times that were so short-lived. Despite the nipple thrush, tongue ties, sleep deprivation and constant vomiting (I’m not selling this very well am I?!), this little being was totally dependent on me, completely reliant on my ability to understand its requirements to nurture and nourish it. I couldn’t imagine, at the time, this little thing growing up but, snap your fingers and they have.
We have reached the end of an era. The Boy will always be my baby (there will be no more!) but he will no longer need me in the same way. No one will need me in the same way, the way that I have been needed over the last 10 years. My role is becoming more supportive and encouraging, enabling my children to thrive rather than doing it for them. Helping them along the way rather than carrying them and guiding rather than leading them.
Enjoy your babies while they are so small, they grow up way too fast! I know it’s a cliché but I really didn’t realise how soon I would be saying this, after hearing it so many times from parents of older children and family members. They really do! The next mile stone will be when K goes up to senior school next September, a few tears will be shed that day I suspect………….