I'm not going to lie, I have visualised this moment many times. When the kids were trying to kill each other just as I had begun a work related call, I imagined it. When I was staying up well past midnight to get an assignment finished because the only time I could work was when the kids were asleep, I actually longed for it. The only thing was, knowing that it was a moment that I would not have to face for years, it was safe to envisage. I could fantasise about it and then return to the life where I still had a child at home. Today that changes.
I knew 'Little O' would be our last child when the Hyperemesis kicked in for the second time. Camping next to the toilet bowl with my husband away and my three year old having to fend for herself is not a situation I care to revisit. Knowing I would never have another infant made me want to cherish every second of her babyhood. Of course, you want to do that with every child, but it is easy to think 'this too shall pass' when you haven't slept for days and your boobs are the size (and firmness) of watermelons. I co-slept, breastfed, and relished in the fact that I was the person she wanted more than everyone else in the world. That, of course, was never going to last. The days when it was just me and her became 'boring', and counting the hours until she started preschool became her favourite pastime.
Today I shall drop my little girl at preschool for the first time. I hope she waves me off with a smile upon her face, I pray there will be no tears from either of us. If you want me after drop off, I shall be sitting in our local coffee shop, beside me a single cup. There will be no 'babychino' foam dotted around the table top, no cookie crumbs scattering the floor. I shall be wired up to my laptop, 'novel in progress' lit up upon the screen, I doubt, however, that a single word will be written. I expect, instead, I will be glancing at the mums still sharing a moment with their kids, whilst fretting on the emotional stability of mine.
I know that this is just one of many firsts, and a tiny moment in time that we shall one day look back on and smile, 'aww, look how cute she was on her first day of preschool'. We did it with her big sister, I just didn't see it coming around so fast the second time. She is so ready; sleeping the night before with her packed nursery bag beside her bed. If truth be told, I am the one who is not ready. I am not ready for my baby to head to preschool, I won't be ready for her big sister to start year three this autumn. I won't be ready when they head off on their first residential trips, their first days of secondary schools, their first holiday without us in tow, or the day they leave home.
There is no school to teach us how to parent, we are thrown in at the deep end. We are pretty certain that we have hit the hardest days when our children are sick or injured, or when they reach their teenage years and claim to hate us through and through. Whilst we are never prepared for those moments, we see them coming, one day. No one ever warned us, however, that some of our proudest moments will also be the ones that hurt the most. With every milestone that comes our way in future years I will cheer louder than any other. I will encourage my children with their hopes and dreams, their desires for the future. As they achieve each one, I know now, whilst happy for them, a little piece of my heart will break, for every milestone reached is one step closer to the day they no longer need me and are ready to start their lives as independent young women. Be strong little girls, the world is your oyster (even if the very thought terrifies me).