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My Baby is Growing Up


Starting primary school is a huge milestone in our lives, it's our first move into being a "big boy" or "big girl", an acknowledgement that we're growing up. But as a mum, I now realise that this milestone is in fact a much bigger one for parents.

My son started big school this week, going into reception class at the school where he's attended nursery for the past year. He's been excited ever since he had a couple of induction sessions before the start of the summer holidays and has been asking when he was starting in "deception" for the last six weeks. On his first day, he gave me a quick kiss and rushed off into his new classroom – patting his new teacher on the bottom to get her to move out of the doorway and let him in, in the process! – to catch up with his old friends, make new friends and see what fun stuff lay ahead.

Me? I watched him go in, had a chat with my friends and other mums about how crazy it was that our babies were starting school and then walked the 5 minute stroll home to start work. I'd been home for a few minutes when the silence hit me and I burst into tears. I'm used to my son going to his childminder four days a week whilst I work, having only Fridays as "our" day, so the house being quiet during the day isn't unusual, but this was different somehow.

The realisation that my baby, my only child, would from now on be out of the house all day every day of the week and (thanks to the Government's new strict rules on taking children out of school in term time) there would now only be weekends to have fun and be together. Our Fridays together had become Friday mornings when he'd started nursery and now that was gone. No more lie-ins together snuggled up watching DVDs, or reading, or just chatting about anything and everything.

I felt, and still feel, this loss profoundly. It's hard to describe (and probably a little dramatic to anyone not a parent) but it feels like I'm grieving. Mums – and Dads – are worried and wracked with guilt pretty much from the moment their child is born. Every decision or parenting choice is questioned by an inner voice asking "am I doing the right thing?" and the whole thing escalates when you becoming a working mum. Guilt at leaving your child to go to work and the time you lose with them as a consequence, is a massive thing and any time you do get together is so precious. Hey, I know I'm one of the lucky ones, I work from home and the work I do can be done around my son, but losing that special time we had on Fridays, which was just for the two of us, seems like such a devastating loss.

I know I'm not alone, every single one of the other mums I know with little one's starting school or nursery feels the same. Stay at home mum, or working mum, our babies are growing up and don't need us as much as they once did. They'll be looking to their new teachers to teach them new things and help them learn new skills, no longer just looking to mummy and daddy. That realisation is enormous, but also very exciting.

I couldn't be more full of love, nor more proud, of my son's zest for learning and excitement at going to big school. His disappearance into the classroom without a backward glance, let alone a kiss goodbye, on day two of term is testament to how much he's enjoying it. I can't wait to hear what he's done when he comes home each day, or to see how his writing improves and his ability to read and do maths grows (I hope he's better at maths than his mum, for his sake!). I want to see his confidence soar to new heights and watch his new friendships and relationships develop. What a wonderful joy these things will be.

So my advice if you have a little one starting school or nursery imminently, or sometime in the future, know that yes, you will feel emotional and it will break your heart on one hand, but on the other hand your heart will be full of joy thinking of all the fun and possibilities this new phase will bring. Good luck, you're going to be fine :-)

Well being


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