I took the Girl Child shopping for new school shoes yesterday. As she was being measured up, and fitted for her shiny new shoes, we discovered that she, at nearly 9 years old, will be wearing shoes the same size as me.
The Boy Child, at 11 years old, is wearing men’s sizes, and has been for close to two years.
And BOTH kids are threatening to overtake me in height (in fact, if I’m brutally honest, I think the Boy Child has got me pipped, but I’m avoiding going back-to-back with him to give him the victory).
At the rate that these kids are outgrowing clothes and shoes, you’d think I would be unsurprised by these events.
But it’s making me a bit…..sad.
You see, while I always suspected I’d end up being the smallest one in this household, as the reality of that actually happening is approaching like a freight train, I’m finding myself gripping onto the denial bucket like a madwoman.
If I say my kids are still little, then they damn well are. Because, really, I need them to stay little, just for a bit longer.
If they are still little, then they still NEED ME, and I’m not the mini human who hangs around the house and washes the socks.
And while I love the fact that they are growing, and asserting themselves in the world, and finding their own (exceptionally large) feet, I can’t help but wonder, where on earth did my babies go?
As we arrived to the first day of school today, and I pulled up the the kerb, the Boy Child was out of the car before the engine was even off, with a quick peck on the cheek, and a “seeya mum, love ya!”.
I watched him, as he bolted into school with his soccer ball tucked under his arm, weaving his way around the tiny tots heading into Prep for the first time, gripping their parent’s hands, looking swamped by their gigantic backpacks, and their eyes wide, taking in their new world.
And just like that, he was gone, like a shooting star of confidence and independence, out of my sight. Not a glance back, not a single hesitation.
The Girl Child had extra stuff to carry in to her class, and she asked me if I’d walk with her “just for today, mum.”
“Of course, love. Do you want me to come in to the class with you?”
“No thanks, there’s Hannah, you can leave that box with my bag at the door”.
And she hugged me, and ran to join her friend.
So I walked back to my car, with this weird mix of emotions in my belly, and I felt just a little bit like crying. Which is funny, because I never cried when each of them started school for the first time; I think I was too busy worrying about them to feel sad.
But today, I knew I didn’t need to worry.
Today, I can just be proud of the fact that both of my little loves have surpassed the tears and anxieties that had accompanied each of them through their early schooling. They’ve each found their own strengths to carry them through, which is everything I could have hoped for.
Today, I can feel a tinge of sadness, watching those little Prep kids with their parents, as I recall how it feels like yesterday that there were tiny little hands squeezing mine, as I ushered my own babies, like little ducklings, into their new classrooms, hoping against hope that I had buffered them with enough love to get them through the long school days without us.
Today, I can feel happiness, that my kids, my two BIG kids, are growing into exactly who I hoped they’d be.
Today, I can trust, that the things we have taught them, and the behaviours we have modelled to them, are going to be enough to help them achieve whatever they want to achieve, not just today, but for years to come.
Today, I can enjoy the peaceful (tidy!!) house and a hot cuppa, free from the bickering of siblings, while I await school pick-up time. I can look forward to hearing about their days, stealing a cuddle or two, and knowing that even if they don’t need me the way they used to, they still need me.
I’m no longer wiping their noses, and making aeroplanes out of their spoons of food. I’m no longer rocking them to sleep, and it’s rare that they ask me to sing to them, or even read them a story out loud. They can tie their own shoelaces, and run their own showers, and brush their own teeth, and pour their own cereal.
But, I’m here, and I hope they always know it.
No matter how big their shoes are, or how tall they get.
Even when I’m the smallest by a mile, and they’re off living their best lives as adults, I’ll be right here.
And there’s no place I’d rather be.