The End of an Era – My Youngest Baby Starts ‘Big School’

In July of 2011 my 4yr old daughter left preschool, it seems like only yesterday my husband took our first photo, on the left. I am on unchartered territory here, this is the first time since December 2005 that I haven’t made daily visits to our local preschool. On the one hand I am excited about the new chapter in my daughter’s life – in my life even, as she joins her brothers at “big school” – I am no longer the mother to a baby, a toddler or a pre-schooler. In many ways I have been so looking forward to this time, to the new found freedom (and quiet!) I will have for 6 small hours a day, 5 days per week but in so many more I feel as if I am in mourning. Mourning for the tiny warm bundles snuggled in my arms that will all too soon be taller than me (I’m only 5ft 1 – it’s not hard!), mourning for those magical moments in the fascinating world of a toddler, mourning for the loss of no more babywearing, no more co-sleeping (her choice on both accounts), no more baby items cluttering my house or handbag (I gave up on changing bags by baby number 3!). Mourning for my youth too. I am only 35 and whilst I know plenty of women only begin their motherhood in their late 30s and early 40s I feel for me that stage in my life is now over and whilst I am excited about the impending teenage years there is still a nagging doubt that it is downhill from now – nothing can surely replace those heady baby days?

On Friday we attended her leaver’s party. Testament to attachment parenting I guess, she is super confident and happy about leaving the caring intimacy of her small church preschool and venturing into the world of the “big girls and boys and purple dresses” (yup – our school uniform is a funky purple, which secretly pleases the hidden hippy in me!). I on the other hand sobbed like a baby in the arms of the preschool manager. I vowed I wouldn’t, I never did when my boys left preschool, but this time it’s different – we won’t be going back. Oh my – I’m welling up again already!


About SarahOckwell-Smith

Sarah Ockwell-Smith, Parenting author and mother to four.
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