From the moment you were born I knew that we were on borrowed time, that this day would come and eventually, in what felt like a thousand years from then, you would start school. And, as a tiny baby in my arms, I thought that we had all the time in the world, that an eternity would pass before I had to accept that you were growing up, spreading your wings and leaving us behind. And I cant lie, the thought of waving you goodbye each morning, seeing you disappear behind that school door and having to walk away, it breaks my heart. Because you aren’t just another child starting school, just one of thirty in a class, you are my child, my baby infact. Our first precious rainbow baby who healed our hearts, and I don’t feel at all ready to let you go.
And whilst I’m not ready, the truth is, you are. You’ve been ready for weeks, months infact, since that very first day you tried on your school uniform, looked at yourself in the mirror and your eyes widened in disbelief. “I’m a big girl now!” you had told me, and I swallowed back my tears at how very grown up you looked, how I knew right there and then that it was time to let you go. When we went shopping for your school shoes, you skipped the entire way into town, tugging at my hand and asking me, “Will they be black? And shiny? And have a buckle?”, and I had nodded along, squeezing your hand so tightly. “Will they light up when I walk?” you had pleaded, and I had promised you that they would. And they do, and I have never seen you as excited over a pair of shoes as you swung the bag in your little hand and told me, “Megan is really going to wish that she had some too!”.
And part of what breaks my heart is just that, that the days of Eva and Meggy, sisters, best friends and partners in crime, is coming to an end. While Harry is very much his own person, I worry about how Megan will cope without you, and you without her, and whether the dynamics of our family will change as Megan and Harry find their own path together. And I know of course you will still be close, you’ll still be together every night after school, reunited with big hugs and endless kisses, but it wont be the same, not ever. Never again will there come a time when you spend every moment of every day together like you have done, when you walk to nursery hand in hand, my two little ‘twinnies’ in your matching outfits, bickering as you do, but loving each other whole heartedly none the less. I feel for Megan, as she watches from the sidelines, seeing you in your red gingham dress and your shiny new shoes, knowing that as close as you are, it isn’t her time yet, that she too has to let you go.
Sat here now, looking at your uniform hanging on the back of the door, all pristine and ready, I am filled with regret. I regret those days when I lost my temper, when I shouted at you over the Summer, left the room for just two minutes peace and muttered under my breath, “Roll on September!”. I regret that I wished away so many moments, those exhausting nights you spent teething, the long days I counted down to bedtime, my patience at your relentless crying wearing thin when I was tired and already pregnant with your sister. The times when life seemed so over whelming and I couldn’t face another moment of Mr Tumble, Hungry Hippos or Baby Annabel, when I told you, “Not now!”, or failed to notice the look on your face when I snapped,”I’m busy!”. I regret that I didn’t make the most of every single moment we had together these last four and a half years, that I didn’t know just how fast the time would pass or realise that, although having the three of you at home was undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever had to do, that one day, this day, I would give just about anything to hold on to this time for just a moment longer.
And yet here we are. Four and a half, wise beyond your years, funny, intelligent, imaginative and breathtakingly beautiful. Of course you’re not as angelic as you may appear, you have an attitude to rival any teenager, you are fiercely stubborn and your sassiness knows no limits. I know that these next twelve months will see so many changes in you, that this time next year you will have grown in strength and character, but don’t ever stop being you. Sass and all.
And the lovely thing is that thirty two years ago (How can it be so long?) I was just like you, starting at the very same primary school, in the same reception class, holding on to Nanas hand feeling everything that you will be feeling tomorrow. I was nervous, excited and most of all scared, and yet actually my memories of primary school are some of the best memories I have. You are going to have an absolutely amazing time Eva, you’ll finally learn how to read, something which you have talked about for such a long time. And whilst I know that my days of using that to my advantage are numbered, “Oh sorry baby, you have to be six to go on that ride!”, “Ahh sorry Eva, they don’t have that illuminous yellow, sparkly t-shirt in your size!”, I am so excited for the day when you come home with your first reading book, when we can snuggle up together at night and you can read me the story, to see you trace along the page with your little finger and sound out the words with your lispy little voice. There is so much ahead of you and I know, I absolutely know it, that you are going to flourish.
There is so much I could tell you about starting school, with the knowledge of hindsight and the wisdom of my years, and yet the fun thing about primary school is working it out for yourself. It’s important that you find your own path, discover who you are whilst remembering all of the love, respect and strength we have instilled in you. So to quote the words from your favourite film, Cinderella, I will simply say. “Be kind and have courage”. The rest you will figure out for yourself.
And so tomorrow, when I let go of your hand, when I wipe away my tears and watch you walk away, just know that I have every faith in you, that I am with you every step of the way and that most of all, there has never been a Mummy more proud than I.