My girls starts school next week. My little pride and joy. In truth, I am trying not to think about it too much, but then the thoughts keep creeping back into my mind somehow. My overriding thoughts are ones that I cannot dispel and there is one wish in particular that I know can never come true.
I wish I could turn the clock back.
Just for a moment. If only.
If only I could, but I know I cannot. I know deep down that it is a silly thing to say and I have never been one to regret or look back over my life (too much anyway). I just can’t help but wonder if perhaps I could have done things differently. Perhaps I would have been checked out earlier? If I had only fought that overriding sense of anxiety, would it have all turned out differently? Would I have caught ‘it’ sooner? And if I had, would it have meant less treatment? A treatment that stopped me spending precious time with my children. A treatment that stopped me taking them to and from school and nursery. A treatment that kept me in bed even when I fought to get up in time – just to remind them to have a lovely day.
There is no point to wishing and what ifs, and yet if I ever do let my mind wander I wonder what could have been. I cannot help it. Perhaps it is a normal way of thinking for people who have experienced illness, or perhaps I shouldn’t look back at all?
Next week is not about me, it is about my little girl. All of the guilt, the nerves, the excitement and the worry belong to me and I will lock it up and hide it somewhere that she cannot see. It is the end of an era but also the beginning of a new one and a new chapter in our lives. All of her nerves and uncertainty will be calmed by myself and her daddy the best way we know how.
I have realised that the overriding feeling I have right now, in this moment, is one of pride. A great sense of pride in my daughter, in the little girl that she has become and the young lady that she is growing up to be.
Of course we have spoken about school, what it means, what will happen in a vain attempt as parents to fend off any of the ‘unknowns’ and uncertainties. Careful not to talk about it too much or introduce worry or fear, but just enough to acknowledge that it is happening. To her and to me. In one such conversation recently I complemented her saying what a ‘big girl’ she now is and she told me that she doesn’t want to be a big girl, she wants to be a baby (out of the mouths of babes I thought).
And so as next week draws near and I attempt to label new uniforms and check all is as it should be, I have welcomed the sense of pride as it is one which I am very lucky to have. Things could have been very different for us, and perhaps they still could be.
Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to feel her nerves ?
Aren’t I the lucky one who tells her that it is ok to cry if she needs to?
Aren’t I the lucky one to have taken her shoe shopping for her first school shoes?
Aren’t I the lucky one to hold her hand as she walks through the school gates for the very first time?
There is no doubt in my mind that she will soar through school once she has settled in. It is just that the settling in part is a very real hurdle that needs to be overcome. My girl is bright and happy and articulate. Her personality shines out of her once she is sure and only then will you ever catch a glimpse of her eyes sparkling. Until then there will be the odd tear no doubt (for us both), and her fingers will be placed firmly in her mouth as she secretly wishes she had her special blanket. I know that she will look hopefully for her brother in the playground, for a familiar face. She may spend weeks in her bubble until the teacher manages to reassure her, and only then will she shyly answer to her name.
One thing is for sure though, that she can be absolutely certain of in the coming weeks of change. I will be there, or her daddy, waiting for her at the end of the day with hopeful eyes and arms outstretched.
Aren’t I the lucky one to be able to stand at those school gates waiting for my girl?
Art by Yolande Sanchez