Last week, my big girl Evelyn started kindy. I had mentally prepared myself for it for weeks (maybe months if I am honest) and as the day arrived I was actually really excited for her. I just knew how much she was looking forward to big girl school and how well she was going to thrive in that environment. I got up early to make sure I was dressed and ready for the inaugural ‘drop-off’ and when she (finally) got up we excitedly had breakfast and got her into her uniform. I was doing her hair and fastening a giant (school uniform coloured) bow in her hair when I got my first twinge of ‘I am going to lose it dropping my baby off at school’. I brushed these feelings aside as quickly as I could, and busied myself washing her fruit and checking her drink bottle had been labelled (for the 100th time).
My mum and dad (who just live down the road) popped up to see Evelyn before school and we took the requisite ‘first day of kindy’ photos. And as I watched her pull all the faces of a little girl bursting out of her skins with excitement, I got my second twinge. This time the feelings were less easily brushed to the side, having intensified from the realm of ‘twinge’ to something more significant – maybe a twang?
Dressed and begging to hit the road, Evelyn made her way to the car, her GIANT school bag on her back (and hanging down to her knees). The twinge-twang had now intensified to more of a gut wrenching dread – was I actually going to drive my baby to SCHOOL and leave her there? Albeit it only for two introductory hours?
As I pulled out of my driveway and headed towards the school, it appeared I was.
When we arrived at kindy, we were greeted my the warmest, smiley-est faces of the early learning teachers. I think you have to be a special type of person to look after young children every day – that are not yours – I definitely couldn’t do it. And if I were to think about all the characteristics I would hope for from a set of kindy teachers – they seriously ticked all the boxes and my anxiety immediately calmed down.
Evelyn was straight in there – quite literally darting from area to area – clearly overwhelmed with all the amazing things to do and where she should start and what she should do next. It was awesome to see, and again reaffirmed to me that she was so ready, and was going to love school.
Having had a number of previous catch ups with the kindy mums we got talking and it became clear that there were two camps of mums – the been there done it all before mums who couldn’t wait to get out of there and taste the sweet, sweet freedom that back to school brings; and the lip trembling, don’t ask me if I’m okay mums who were just trying their utmost to hold it together and not make an ugly crying scene.
Fifteen minutes after our arrival, Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’ came on, signalling it was time for us to exit. We were asked to say goodbye to our littlies and ask them to make their way to the mat. I gave Evelyn the biggest cuddle I could muster and before I got the chance to assure her that everything was going to be okay – she was gone. ‘Bye Mum!!’ she said as she darted to sit front and centre on the mat, her curly side pony bouncing behind her.
Woah. Did that just happen?!
I chatted with a couple of the other mums as we made our way to our cars. Some mums were revelling in the two hours of freedom laying before them, others (like me) were rushing home to make sure morning naps were had by littler children before kindy pick up required them to be up again. The never-ending logistics of mum life!!
I got in the car and turned on the ignition. I had done it. But as the Giggle and Hoot CD flooded through my radio, this time playing to an empty car, the magnitude of my baby starting school hit me, and I.LOST.IT. There was no ‘single tear and gentle tissue dabbing of my nose’, this was the full blown ugly cries, complete with mascara rivers running down each cheek and, in the interests of full disclosure, a snot bubble or two.
I cried all the way home. I cried again when I saw my mum (who had stayed home with Grace). I cried into my krispy kreme donut and on and off for the remaining two hours until pick up time.
It sounds pathetic, I fully agree.
Before I had children, I had honestly always rolled my eyes when I heard stories of mums crying when dropping off their children at school, it all sounded so foreign to me and I could not IMAGINE that I would ever be that mum!
Yet here I am. I have a lump in my throat even writing about it.
For me, as I am sure is the case for so many mums crying into their teas this week, it is so unavoidably confronting at these little life milestones to acknowledge that time really does stop for no one. The time we have with our children as impressionable little people who hang on to every word we say is just so limited. It honestly feels like yesterday that I was bringing Evelyn home from the hospital, watching with awe as she lay wrapped in her bassinet.
And as quickly as these last four years have gone, I just KNOW the next four will be even faster and the next four after that. Gosh, I remember MY first day of school so very clearly – how can I have a school aged child of my own?!!
As the saying goes, the days feel like years and the years feel like days. Has there ever been a truer word spoken?! And if last week has taught me anything, it is to make the very most of every single day, regardless of how tiring they are and how much the daily challenges can test you.
And. Waterproof mascara. Always.