There are moments when you are a Mama, moments where you can literally see your daughter growing up right in front of your eyes, moments where you actually feel a string stretch (maybe even break), those strings that tie you to them, the strings of dependence. Suddenly you are in a moment where something changes, a slight shift in time, and they’ve taken one tiny step away from holding their Mama’s hand, and one tiny step toward their independence. Those moments are beautiful and brutal all at the same time.
Towards the end of last year I got offered a job at an all girl’s school. The type of school I went to as a child. The type of school I’ve always wanted my daughter to go to. The type of school you walk around and your heart skips a beat because you realise how ridiculously happy and lucky your daughter is to be given this opportunity. In short, I got offered my dream job, for both me and Bella. We started Grade 0 together in January this year. Me as a teacher and her as a first time ‘big school’ student. I cannot even begin to explain how special this has been. To be able to be with her every day at the same school, to be there for all her big events, to be able to witness this new journey of hers first hand. It’s simply amazing!
But ‘big school’ means the start of a whole lot of those beautiful and brutal moments. Big school means letting her pack her own bags and take out her own uniforms. It means watching her walk into a new class each day, and hoping she will make friends and won’t cry every night. It means letting her teacher pick her up when she falls and scrapes her knee (even though I’m right there), and letting her go on play-dates all on her own. It means seeing her mess up and giving her the space to figure it out. It means watching her succeed and fail, and teaching her to keep trying. It means meeting her new peers, and knowing that these will be the girls who will become her life-long friends. And above all, it means letting that tiny hand go off on her own just a little bit more each day.
I am loving my new job, I am loving having my daughter at school with me every day, and I am loving that she is in the ‘big school’ phase of her life. But every now and then I have to catch my breath, take in those moments and just watch her grow up. And it makes me wonder – did I take it all in? Did I appreciate those baby moments enough, holding her on my lap feeding her a bottle in the middle of the night? Did I wish away the nappy years and the days when my arms ached from carrying her? Did I yearn for a time when she would be able to brush her own teeth, or when she wouldn’t wake me up all night? Did I hold on enough to those baby milestones that I now miss so much?
So now I am faced with a whole new set of milestones before us, and all I can do is make sure that I hold on, revel in this stage of her life, and love every minute of it. Love making her school lunches, love putting her hair into pigtails and love reading bedtime stories. Love practicing writing her name, love hiding her veggies and love hearing that giggle from another room. Hold on Mamas! They say that it all goes by so fast, and it really really does. Hold your babies close, love them hard through the late nights and the tantrums. One day soon she’ll be walking out on her own, making her own way in this life. So when you eventually have to give that little hand its independence, your heart will need those memories to hold tightly to.