Tomorrow Oxfordshire primary school admissions will close, and there will be no going back. Forms filled in, decisions made. My little girl is still only three, yet we have signed off on her next seven years of education. Admittedly when I filled in the form, there were no difficult decisions to make, my eldest is already at school, I sat down and completed it between school runs, it was simply another thing to tick off my list. Once done, laptop shut, I didn’t give it another thought.
This week her nursery school reminded us to get our applications in. For comfort I revisited my email inbox to double check the confirmation email had come through, it had, pressure off, but the closing deadline suddenly made it real. My daughter, I have no doubt, will be more than ready for school when the time comes. She has visited the school every day, dropping my eldest off, and loves it. She will be beginning this new adventure with her best friends by her side, but am I ready for this?
As a parent something feels very final when your children start school. Of course, I cannot dare to imagine what it feels like when they LEAVE school, and in turn leave home, but starting school is the end of the first adventure we have had together. When my eldest started school, well, that was emotional enough, but the youngest? That’s something else. It marks the end of the toddler groups, the play dates where we watch our little ones interact as we chat about potty training and eat cake. I tell myself that it will be my chance to get back to more productive working hours, and hopefully earlier nights, but part of me will feel regret that there will be no more babies. No more little bodies to rock in my arms, to breastfeed in the dead of night, there will be no more first words, first crawls, first steps. Our decision to stop at two children is one we won’t go back on, I am happy with the decision, largely because my health would suffer if I put my body through another pregnancy. I know those sleep deprived years were hard, only now can I look back on them through rose tinted glasses, but I can’t help but feel a pang of sadness that that time is behind us.
On April 16th her place will be offered to us and from September I shall walk her to school every day, kiss her goodbye and wave her off on another adventure, and I will be happy for her. Every day I will be grateful for all the firsts we still have to come; first school report, first nativity play, first school trips. We have a whole lifetime of firsts ahead of us, she is still so little. It’s a long time until my girls leave home for adventures that I have nothing to do with and that I will never take for granted. But right now, on the verge of my youngest’s school days, it feels like we are taking a big step.