All year, instead of feeling sadness in knowing I would no longer have any preschoolers in the house beyond September, all I had been feeling was excitement. Excitement for my daughter who has been waiting for so long to join her sisters at school; excitement at the adventures that she will no doubt experience there; the joy of being reunited with her kindy friends who have recently started school. There was nothing to look back and feel sad about. She has been ready to leave her kindergarten days behind for a little while now. We were both ready.
Until this moment today.
I was in the kitchen washing up from baking up a storm for Aimee's birthday party and I looked across to see her sitting, wordlessly, on her footstool. She was staring, full of anticipation, through the oven door at her birthday cake. Her five year old birthday cake. All these flashbacks of her started playing like a movie reel through my head. True story. It was ridiculous - I half-expected the Forrest Gump suite to start playing. I just wanted to run over to her, put my arms around her and say "You can't go. You are not ready". But that would have been too weird and she would have looked over my shoulder and asked who that strange man with no legs was in the corner and I would have had to say, "That's Lieutenant Dan, he's a good guy, despite appearances". She looked so small sitting there. I had to rush and grab my camera because all of a sudden, it was even more important to me that I remember her like this. Capturing her mannerisms and these beautiful, quiet moments that I have had my eyes closed to because I've been too busy making pointless vignettes on Instagram or deemed my house too messy to take a nice photo with a good angle and decent light, or because I have been preoccupied with trying to get children to where they are supposed to be on time (and mostly failing at that, thank goodness kindy had a relaxed attitude about it) and making sure they've done their homework (and not succeeding at that lately too, sorry Miss H. When Aimee is in your class, we'll be more organized. Promise).
Aimee often helps me bake but this was the first time she had ever pulled up a pew in front of the oven. There was something in the way that she was sitting there waiting patiently for her birthday cake to cook that made me realize that she knows this is a really big deal. She is going to be a schoolgirl and I won't have these days with her at home with me any more. Just us two. We've been sorting out some of her clothes and passing them on to her younger cousin who we visited the other day. She was wearing some of Aimee's cute old shoes and it struck me again that I had wished I'd have noticed more when my daughter wore cute things and why didn't I take more photos of her little feet?!
But, it'll be okay. She'll be okay. I'll be okay. I know this. Having two older sisters to watch out for her at school comforts me and my sadness will fade like it did after my eldest two started school.
Funny old thing this parenting lark, isn't it? It's full of milestones, ones you are pleased to reach and others that hurt the heart.