After all that, I almost missed it.
It was 7:15am and I was standing on the pavement outside our house, watching my oldest baby set off on her first day of Secondary School.
We’d been up since 6:15, checking and double checking she had everything. I watched her eat breakfast and check her phone for last minute texts from her friends.
DD1 had been fine. She reported feeling a little sick before breakfast, but I knew it was just nerves and once she’d been swept up into the maelstrom of the school run, she’d be fine. She was travelling with a small herd of girls, no doubt all experiencing the same strain of butterflies.
On the outside, I appeared fine too. My upper lip stayed stiff, and my eyes remained resolutely dry but inside I felt decidedly wobbly.
How could that tiny, spiky-haired, stork-marked bundle they handed me, after 42 weeks of pregnancy and an induced labour, be old enough to use public transport on her own? Surely she had just started Primary School last week? Last month? Okay then, last year?
Where had the last 11 1/2 years gone? Did she *have* to go to Big Big School. Couldn’t I just keep her safe at home?
As much as I’d like to, I know I can’t. She’s growing up, she’s moving on. The fact that she had the drive and confidence to get her school place, and even contemplate such a commute means I’m doing the job I’m supposed to , right? I keep reminding myself that independence is the ultimate aim.
DD2, wrapped in an over-sized pink dressing gown on the pavement with me, and not caring who saw her, was crying. She has always had her big sister to show her the way at Primary School. Now she’s in Year 6, she’ll have to go it alone for a year. I think it will do her good.
As we watch DD1 get smaller and smaller as she approaches, then reaches the corner, I can feel myself tearing up a little. I can’t remember if I kissed her goodbye. I don’t think I did. I breathe deeply and DD2 hugs me tighter. I look down at her and smile reassuringly, and tell her it’ll all be okay.
But when I look up, DD1 is nowhere to be seen. All there is is a blur of blue uniform and a swish of blond hair as DD1’s friend breezes past and catches up with her.
She’s gone. She’s off.
I hope she has a brilliant day.