My baby is going to ‘big school’ and I’m not ready…

Dear distressed parents,

So your children are growing up too fast? Tell me about it.

My excited baby has just finished her final preparations for starting ‘big school’ next year, and as she parades around the house in a uniform that’s so big on her tiny four year-old body that you could fit two of her in it, I can see that emotionally she’s so ready for this. Me? Not so much.

I mean it was only a moment ago that she was handed to me in the hospital and I was gazing upon her perfect little face, all scrunched up and screaming, and I promised to never take my eyes off her. And yet, here I am, doing just that.

Having already been through this bittersweet journey with her big brother I know she will be in the care of a group of the most incredible, nurturing teachers who will watch out for her, guide her and help her to grow, but there is still a part of me that feels like I’m releasing her into the wild.

I want to be the one to protect her with the instincts that, as her mother, only I have. I want to talk to her, listen to her and guide her. But instead, six hours a day, five days a week, I must hand those responsibilities and her delightful company over to her teachers. And I’m not a little jealous.

Watching our children transitioning from dependent babies to independent little people of the world is one of the most bittersweet parts of being a parent. The process of slowly letting our babies grow and go forth in to the world is a drama made of many acts and not a little unlike having a Band-Aid removed with painful slowness.

It starts as soon as they begin to crawl. Then they begin to walk. Then run. And with every footstep they make they need us that little bit less. And a little of that Band-Aid is torn away. They wave us goodbye at pre-school, off to do their own thing with their own posse of people. People they’ve chosen, who aren’t us. And we flinch as the Band-Aid is yanked a little more.

There is a sizeable rip when they begin kindergarten and the process of gaining true independence through learning as they begin their journey to adolescence. And with society condensing their childhoods more and more, it’s an increasingly fast journey. Their exit from childhood will continue through school, as will the many stages of letting go. I have highschool, graduation, university, first jobs, first relationships, and hopefully watching my children become parents themselves to look forward to. And that tattered old Band-Aid will still be there, being eased off inch by inch to ensure the process is as painful as possible…

Tearing off a Band-Aid causes discomfort from the moment you begin to even think about removing it. And the parental Band-Aid will cause it for at least the first four decades or so of your children’s lives. But you know the great thing about Band-Aids? They’re there to help and protect us. For every tear you shed as it’s peeled away, there will be a thousand smiles as it reveals your children growing into the people they are meant to be.

So as I prepare to send my youngest out into the world, I want to suggest that should your little ones start to tug at your Band-Aids, just stop for a moment. Breathe. Hold them. Don’t hurry them into growing up because it will happen so fast you won’t know what hit you…

Oh, and get ready for another rip. It’s in the post.

Comment: Can you relate to the feeling of having your kids growing up too fast?