If resigning from my job to spend more time with my family last year wasn’t enough, there’s more to come with my youngest daughter set to start school this week and our soon-to-be youngest baby girl due to arrive at the end of March.
With Miss 5 heading off for her first day at school this Friday, I’m wondering where those years have gone. It also brings back so many memories of my eldest daughter starting school.
It only feels like yesterday that Miss 9 walked through those school gates for the very first time. The whole idea seemed so daunting to me. I think I was more nervous than my daughter. Even though she’d been attending childcare several days a week, school was like a whole new ball game. The school grounds seemed so open. No more locked gates and doors to keep her safe and secure inside a building or yard. It was like I was letting her out into the big wide world for the very first time.
But my daughter was ready for school and settled in so easily that my emotions were kept at bay. No tears from either of us on that first day (maybe a little from her overly emotional father, ha!). I was so proud of her.
I only recall one morning about a week or so into term where she showed any sign of nervousness at school drop off, but with a little encouragement I saw her little body take a deep breath, smile at me through the tears starting to well in her eyes and walk into the classroom. My little girl who had clung to me like a monkey and cried at kinder drop off was growing up.
I had a delayed reaction to the whole thing. My tears came a couple of weeks into the term when I was driving to work after the morning school drop off. It was my first day back at work after taking a short break to ensure my daughter settled into school well.
My ipod was on shuffle and it started to play a song I hadn’t listened to before by Taylor Swift called ‘Never Grow Up’. And it hit me. Hard. I pulled into the car park at work with tears in my eyes. My baby girl, my first born was growing up and I would never be able to protect her in the same way as when she was a little baby. How simple and innocent everything was.
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little. Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, it can stay this simple.
“I won’t let nobody hurt you, I won’t let no one break your heart and no one will desert you, just try to never grow up, never grow up.”
– ‘Never Grow Up’, Taylor Swift
But the rules had changed and I now needed to guide her as she really started to explore the world and all its complexities and relationships.
Maybe it was a resistance to change, but I initially thought it would only take me six weeks or so to adapt to the new school routine, but honestly it was more like six months. I found the whole thing so restrictive, as in the past I could make childcare work around me, now I needed to work around school. I fought it, but it only made my feelings worse and in the end I learned to give in, go with the flow and accept this stage of our life for what it was. Once I did that, things became a little easier, although I still continued to feel like I was chasing my tail most of the time.
Now Miss 5 is on the brink of the very same journey. But it feels different this time. It’s more than just the ‘been there, done that’ attitude. I generally feel more in control and happier with my life at the moment. I released a lot of my stress and anxiety last year after making the decision to leave work, even though I’m sure many people thought I was going about this all backwards – both of my kids were almost at school, shouldn’t I be stepping up my career and getting into the driver’s seat, not clambering over to the back?
I will drop her off at school this Friday morning and, if her attitude to the prep transition program is anything to go by, hopefully all will go very well. I will come home and perhaps I’ll listen to that Taylor Swift song once more. Maybe I’ll shed a tear, but it will be one of happiness and acceptance for the next stage of our family’s ever-changing journey.
Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little. Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up, don’t you ever grow up, it could stay this simple.
“No one’s ever burned you, nothing’s ever left you scarred, and even though you want to, just try to never grow up.”
– ‘Never Grow Up’, Taylor Swift
Do you have a little one starting school this year? Is your son or daughter looking forward to it? How do you feel?