It was mid July and I was at C’s pre-school graduation. She sat with her fellow graduates in a semi circle at the front of the room, shoulders hunched and scowling like no tomorrow. It was the graduation cap. Apparently she’d taken an instant undeniable dislike to it. It was only when her teacher told her she could take it off that C radiated a little sunshine.
Maybe it was frustration, or pride for my defiant yet rational little lady who wouldn’t smile for a photo but sensed she was at the edge of a precipice. Maybe it was the 25+ temperatures, my struggle to keep M quiet and on my lap, my poor attempt to hold my i-phone steady to video the proceedings for Chris who couldn’t be there. Or maybe it was bloody Take That, and their cheesy music that supported a poignant montage of C and her friends projected for our tender audience.
Whatever it was, or all of the above, broke me a bit emotionally in that moment. I’m a pretty empathetic person and since the kids I tear up at John Lewis adverts and random stories about cats, but I’m reasonably good at keeping it together in public. But not that day. Tears burned my eyes and then spilled down my face while I tried to brush them away and get on with watching/filming the montage with some degree of composure.
That graduation slapped me in the face with the latent realisation that C and M are not really small babies anymore. Yes, they’ll always be my babies. And yes, this might seem obvious with a little girl headed for Reception and a little boy who now relishes 30 piece puzzles and talking about my big bottom. But sometimes in the hubbub of daily life you don’t take stock of these things and when the penny finally drops and you stop, think and feel, it’s like the wind’s been knocked out of you.
Where did the time go? Did I appreciate it enough? Will I ever have another one and experience that raw dependence and love of a tiny baby, which fades like innocence? I don’t know. Life is busy, and I often feel like I’m treading water….am I doing anything justice?
This has been knocking about at the back of my mind over the summer but I’m not really in the mood for giving in to the ever-present mother guilt or feeling dwarfed by figuring out what I’m doing with my life. I’m determined to have my best crack at this next chapter, to take things one step at a time, to switch off autopilot a bit more…I’ve seen some people around me go through some awful times of late and that makes me more grateful for what I have, and more determined to move and use.
At the end of that provoking graduation ceremony one of C’s teachers told me that she loves C’s spirit and that we’ve done a great job with her. And for that I gave her the biggest hug.