Over the last few days, I’ve found myself returning time and again to the same question: how on earth did we get to the point where our eldest son is just about to leave primary school? The second half of the academic year has literally flown by, and it seems only a blink since I wrote about our year of small goodbyes as I looked ahead to what 2019 would have in store. The last few weeks have been a series of ‘lasts’ – last sports day, last report card, last school disco. In a week or so, my son will have a two-day trial at secondary school, and we’ll have a chance to go and visit the place where he’ll be spending much of the next six years. There will be a leavers assembly too, where us Mums and Dads will get the chance to see our kids perform a sort of swan song to their seven years of primary school.
It all feels like a line is being drawn in the sand, somehow.
A line, that if I’m being honest, I’m not quite ready to step across.
But cross it we must, towards changes that will impact in different ways on all of us. It seems odd to think of picking my youngest child up from school without waiting for his brother to exit with him from the gate. It seems strange to think of sports days and concerts where I observe as the Mother of only one participant; memories of my eldest’s involvement still so connected to my whole sense of the place. Of course, my eldest will still be around, doing his thing elsewhere, but at the moment that all seems so remote from us. I’m wallowing. I know this. This is a corner I’m simply struggling to turn.
And it’s not just me, of course, who’ll be affected – there will be changes for my youngest son too, as he adapts to the school routine without the constant presence of an older sibling. Our boys get on well together and share many common friendships – I know they’ll miss the loss of that daily contact with one another (although of course they’ll have plenty to catch up on when they both get in from school).
There will be earlier starts and new horizons – the eldest has already come home excitedly clutching details of his impending registration class. When I look back over the last few months I can see there have been many small acts of letting go, of slackening the reigns, of stepping back a bit. But that’s parenthood, I suppose, isn’t it? You watch them grow, you have to let them fly.
And when I look at my son, brimming with excitement about the prospect of this new adventure, I put on my brightest smile despite myself. I see the same kind, sweet boy who started primary school, the same quiet, easy-going manner that has made being Mum to him a breeze.
And I remember that when you’re walking away from something, you’re really walking towards something different. That when you’re saying goodbye to one thing, you’re saying hello to something else. That when one thing comes to an end, something else begins. The never ending cycle.
And the summer stretches out in front of us like a blanket.
A summer of firsts and lasts and every small moment in between.