How is it possible that you, my little Meggy, will be starting school tomorrow? Sat here now, looking at your uniform carefully ironed and placed on the hanger, your shoes all shiny and new just waiting to be worn, your book bag sitting at the door, hoping not to be forgotten, everything is ready…….apart from me.
And it’s funny because I genuinely didn’t think that I would feel this way. I didn’t expect to wake every morning with that niggling feeling of worry in the pit of my stomach, crossing off the days with a heavy heart, willing time to slow down just a little, wishing that the Summer could last forever. Because as much as I thought that I’d be revelling in the idea of a moments peace, a tidy home, an empty washing basket, the thought of laying on the couch eating Wispa’s and chilling with the Silver Fox, I’m really not.
Born just fifteen months after your sister, from the moment you were placed into my arms, screaming like the drama queen we came to know, you have caused me more stress and worry than all four of your siblings put together. When Harry was born just twelve months (and four days) later, after an agonising first year struggling with your health issues, I felt very guilty that at one year old you were no longer the baby of the family. I still do.
That first year was tough and, although I had everything I ever wanted, I still struggled to get out of bed each morning, to go through the same rigmarole of nappies and bottles, the washing and cleaning, the incessant screaming and crying, the daily grind which, quite frankly, drove me insane.
There were days when you would whine pretty much from start to finish, when one of you would wake just as the others nodded off, when I would sit, surrounded by dirty dishes and empty bottles, with greasy hair and sick stained clothes, praying for the minutes to tick by until bedtime.
There were weeks when I lay on the couch, watching Mr bloody Tumble on repeat, questioning whether anybody had actually died a Cbeebies inflicted death, the three of you clambering all over me, fighting it out for prime spot on my lap, and I would wish away the moments, longing to fast forward to a time where life would suddenly become more manageable
With every passing month I told myself that things would get easier; when I threw away the steriliser, the formula, the tiny little weaning spoons and orange stained dishes, I told myself that we were on the home straight. When I waved goodbye to the Moses basket, the double buggy, to all three of you in nappies, I assumed that a full nights sleep, a hot meal and a moments peace were just around the corner.
And then you turned two, and everything went pear shaped. I lost count of the number of days which ended in tears because of your behaviour, the fact that you were just so angry, so aggressive, so incredibly emotional. Every day stuck indoors would result in me tearing my hair out, every day out would end with you lying on the floor, kicking, crying and screaming blue murder. And every night I would lie in bed just counting down the moments until you started pre-school and I would finally have a moment to just breathe.
At three I had hoped that life would get easier, that, with the changes we had seen in you since starting pre-school, you would feel a little less frustrated, a little more capable of controlling your emotions, a little less likely to spend your entire day screeching. Yet with you only doing fifteen hours a week at pre-school I had over looked one major issue – the fact that together, you and Harry were out to destroy me!
With a wicked sense of humour and both
completely defiant strong willed, the two of you together are a dangerous mix. Whilst I promised myself that we would make the most of every day together, cherishing every moment before you went off to school this year, enjoying the fact that we could finally leave home without a full on military operation, my plans were soon scuppered by your constant crying, the two of you lashing out over every little thing, wrestling each other into headlocks, taunting me with your villainous laughs which left me muttering, “Roll on September!”…
And I hold my hands up and admit that I have made so many mistakes along the way, I could have handled things very differently, allowed others to help when I was struggling, recognised that so much of your behaviour was simply about vying for your place in the family. It took me far too long to realise that the things which make you different are the things which make you special, that you simply feel things more than other children, you know more, you hurt more, you love more, and that beneath your anger and frustration is the sweetest little girl just wanting to be understood.
And yet you forgave me it all.
And now here we are, September, and here I am, crying at my laptop, knowing that right now I would give just about anything to go back in time, and do it all again.
And do it better.
I would give anything to go right back to that moment when you were placed in my arms, when you wrapped your hand around my little finger, looked at me with those big blue eyes of yours, and I knew that I would do everything in my power to keep you safe.
To be woken by the sound of your new born cries, six, seven, eight times a night, to mumble under my breath as I made up another bottle, praying that it would soothe you before you woke your siblings. To trundle that double buggy down the road each day, weighted down with Harry in the baby carrier, the nappy bag flung over one shoulder, plodding along like an old bag lady, forcing myself to smile each time somebody told me, “You’ve got your hands full!”.
To go back to those days when we lay on the couch in our pyjama’s, watching your favourite film, The Lion King, on repeat until you could recite every word, a moment of calm amongst so much chaos. To the days in the garden, the park, the beach, when the sound of your laughter carried on the wind, your eyes sparkling, your little face filled with such joy and happiness, the days when you reminded me just how completely wonderful you were.
To your first birthday, the celebrations, the candles and cake; to first Christmas’s, the shrieks of excitement, the grateful kisses and warmest of hugs; to our holidays, our Easter days, our every days, the moments when every tear, every tough day, every penny was worth it ten times over.
And I would give just about anything to go back to those days when I had cried at how desperately hard life seemed, when I had wished for the time to hurry up, when I had wondered why you wouldn’t stop screaming for just one moment…..and I’d take it all back, I’d say I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I enjoyed every single moment of that time…..
I just didn’t realise it ’til now.
Because all of a sudden my baby girl has grown, not even a baby at all, and in the blink of an eye those crazy days are gone. And tomorrow when I wave you goodbye at the gate, I know that my heart will break a little, filled with sadness and regret that I wished away so much of the last four years.
I’m so sorry for snapping when I was tired and grumpy, for losing my patience far too often, for trying so hard to keep myself afloat that I forgot to enjoy every moment. I’m sorry that I allowed the pressures of being a parent, of being human, to get the better of me at times, for being too quick to anger, to tell you, “God help you when you go to school!” and “School won’t know what’s hit them!”. Because the truth is, you will be an absolute credit to that school and they will be so very lucky to have you. I envy them those six hours a day when you will be theirs and not mine.
Because the truth is, you are the sweetest, most hilarious, kind, beautiful, talented, loving and dramatic little girl I will ever have the pleasure of knowing, and I am so very proud of you. You are so excited to join Eva at “big school”, having waited on the side lines for twelve long months, pining for your best friend, and I just know that you being there is going to be such a huge comfort to her.
And although Harry and I will miss you tremendously, you are more than ready for school, so desperate to learn, to read, to be able to write down the most wonderful stories which you tell us daily. And I can’t wait to hear all about it.
Right now, starting from tomorrow, this is your time to shine. And you can be anything at all you want to be my darling girl (even though right now you insist that you want to be a builder), but promise me one thing, okay?
Don’t ever change.
You are absolutely perfect just the way you are, my beautiful, crazy, precious little NutMeg.
Love you all the stars in the sky,