It’s Monday 3rd September 2017, as I look around me I can see endless dinosaurs and dragons strewed across various surfaces. Baby walkers abandoned, plastic multi coloured balls hiding under the table and jigsaw-puzzles half done on the kitchen carpet. As I look up I can see Tommy sat at the kitchen table eating his third breakfast of the morning, glued to ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ season 1 episode 7 on the television. Making the odd howling or swooping dragon noise as he spoons more scrambled egg into his mouth. Emme is asleep upstairs, she is having her morning nap, an occurrence that we do every day, resulting in an hour of us time. Tommy and me.
It usually involves cleaning on my part, endless eating on Tommy’s part and a variety of new toys being got out. Finally ending in cuddles on the sofa, with another episode of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ (were working through them), another bowl of snacks in hand and a large tea for me. Sometimes we sit opposite ends. Sometimes we sit together, snuggled. I am often on my phone and Tommy flits back and forth from trying to watch tv upside down, to dancing around, to getting a dragon to join us. This is our mornings. It’s our routine, what we know and it gives us both time for each other…. I never knew just how important this was to me until today.
This afternoon Tommy starts primary school, and our routine will be changed forever. Such a small step but one which will impact us all. As I write this my eyes fill with tears, reminiscing over our mornings. At 1, he would play with his train set or push along car. At 2, he loved his tractors and we watched endless episodes of Tractor Ted. At 3, he found the Dinosaurs and insists on learning all their names and sounds. Which now brings us to 4, where his imagination has sky rocketed, as well as his new-found love for dragons. Toothless and Stormfly in particular. How can my dear boy be off to school when he is just starting to find himself?
To me, his mother, the world seems such a scary place for my little love. Going off on this big adventure on his own seems unnecessary and alien to us. My heart tells me he’s mine and I need to know everything he does every second of the day, to protect his innocent nature and prolong his childhood. Whereas my eyes and brain tell me off, for thinking so selfishly. Yes, he is my little man and the connection we have will always be special and unique to us. But this is his life and I am well aware that I am only here for guidance and love. All I can do is teach, guide, love and listen to him as he grows up in this world. Praying and crossing everything that I manage to stumble upon raising him with the correct values to be happy.
Upon starting this journey towards primary school, I found myself thinking a lot about myself, how I felt, what I wanted, which school was the best, how would I cope without him. The anxiety built and resulted in weeks of not addressing the matter. Crazy I know and such a hypocritical response when at the beginning of the summer I put a ‘How to prepare your child for school’ video up on my YouTube channel. The truth is I know how to prepare a child for school, I have experienced this several times over the years in my line of work. However, what I didn’t account for was preparing ‘my child’ for school. A completely different ball game, when my emotions and feelings took over my sanity. Hence ignoring the upcoming event for several weeks. Consequently, two weeks before September, with no uniform ordered and no pre-primary school discussions occurring. I decided it was time to ‘Mummy up!’
This is not about me! This isn’t my journey! The focus should not be on me… not for a moment. I was being hugely selfish and forgetting that my anxiety was not Tommy’s anxiety. This is HIS new adventure. One that I get to be a part of yes, but not one that I fully control. He is his own person, and in the past four years has developed his own unique sense of self, humour and drive. He is now taking the first steps on his journey towards creating a life for himself, and I couldn’t be prouder.
My little man will always be in my heart no matter where he is, I just have to learn to loosen the reins and let him grow. Be there, listening to him, present in his learning, but not controlling. This realisation was huge and has been a process of adjustment, because to me the memory of this small, pink lipped, baby grow wearing, little love wasn’t that long ago. Like many Mummies, when I held Tommy in those first moments after he was born, I promised to keep him safe and love him until the end of time. I still remember kissing him on the forehead as I said this. Yet over the past four years I have learnt that keeping him safe isn’t a static statement. It moves and evolves as he grows, adapting to various forms when he needs it. Be it watching him like a hawk when he attempts to do the monkey bars for the first time, or providing special kisses behind his ear at night, or creating a photo keyring with pictures of his family for his first day at school. All examples of a mother’s love and drive to protect their baby. We do this without thinking, it’s in us, as mothers, to love our children forever, it’s what makes us special and allows us to sustain such an unimaginable bond with our little loves.
So, as you can imagine for the past few weeks my mind has been like a merry-go-round of thoughts, up and down, back and forth, between emotions. Yet here we are at his first day of school and we are all calm. Cuddled together, loving these last moments where I am his universe. I am stoking his hand and watching him engrossed in the tv, relishing my four-year old and counting my blessings that I am part of his adventure.
Of course, he doesn’t know what is about to begin. He is innocent in the adventure he is starting, not knowing the implications of education and the vast world that is awaiting his eager mind. His sole worry is leaving me, yet he knows he will have great fun and meet lots of new friends. This next week will be tough for him, emotionally and intellectually, but children are resilient and they cope so much better than adults do in new situations.
Finally, the time has come for school and there is just one last thing to do …. he has to open his card. I read out the words to him…
These words sum up how incredible these little people are upon taking this step. I am so honoured, proud and elated to get to experience such a moment in his life. I will always think these thoughts about my little love and if he ever needs reminding I will be here waiting for him…until the end of time.