My “darling” (I’ve put that in inverted commas because it’s a direct quote from you. You often tell me and your little sister that you’ll be the Mummy and we’ll be “the darlings”. The truth is, you’re the darling. Even the darling-est of darlings.)
Soon you will be starting school.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. After all, I feel like you’ve been ready to leave me since you were about two. You’ve certainly been bossing us about since the day you were born, earning yourself the title “Little Mummy” partly because you’re a caring, sensible big sister…but also the fact that you put us all in our place and talk to everyone like they are younger than you. Plus you’re more like me than any of your other siblings. And yet, I feel surprised that time has gone so quickly. Time I thought we had in great supply.
I’m writing this now, before the day you set the first sure-foot into the adventure that you’re about to embark on, not because I’m organised… I think we can safely say that’s not something you can say about me. With a roll of your eyes when I admit I forgot to pick up some batteries for the teddy bear toy laptop yet again; I know that I’m exasperating. My head is too often full of things you can’t yet understand, I know I am not the girly, well-dressed mum you may want me to be. But as you so frequently tell me: I’m yours.
I’m writing this now because I want to be clear about a few things before the occasion runs away with me and I ‘disgrace myself’ (as grandad would so eloquently put it) with tears and evenings spent looking at your baby photos.
This week we learned all about your teacher, and your class. And about how the first few weeks of school will pan out for you. Trust me, you’re going to love it.
I’m not going to tell you I’m sad. Or that I don’t want you to grow up yet.
Because I really, really do.
Growing up (no matter how fast it seems) is a privilege denied to many.
You carry on.
Last week I went to the wedding of my oldest friend. Not that she was old ( you thought she must be as ‘my oldest friend’), just that she is my most longstanding friend. We had a wonderful time reminiscing about our long ago childhood, our shared memories, trips, teatimes, songs, games, our own Mums embarking on a journey of treasured friendship through us… and it struck me that you’re almost the age I was when I met my wonderful friend.
You’re old enough to find a friend for life.
No matter how little you seem to me, you’re old enough to make decisions about who you want to play with, deciding who makes you laugh until juice comes out of your nose. Who to flick peas across the dinner table with, when you think I’m not looking.
That doesn’t make me sad.
It makes me very hopeful. That you will be a good friend, as I try to be. That you and your new friends will grow and learn together, find your feet, fall out and make up again. Because although I have been blessed with amazing parents, an astounding sister and so many lovely things growing up, I don’t think I credit enough to the wonderful friends who joined me and stayed with me along the way. The ones who I laugh with, cry with, love with and lose with.
They are the family I chose for myself.
That’s what I hope for you at school. You have me, you have Daddy; we will try and make sure we are always present (no doubt with mortifying contribution) to whatever you decide to do; but you now have to start thinking about the supporting cast to your childhood.
All I can say is, if you happen to be even half as lucky as I am, the story of your life will be a bestseller.
With love, lots of love,
Your oldest Mummy x