When I was a little girl every Summer holidays without fail I would go to Cambridge with my Mum and Grandma for a day out shopping. We would go out for lunch, usually to Pizza Hut because that’s where I always wanted to go (hello ice cream factory!) and my Grandma would treat me to a new pair of school shoes and a new pencil case ready to start back at school in September. I have such fond memories of those girly days out with them both.
On Monday of last week we took the same trip out shopping that we have done for many years now. We went to Pizza Express instead of Pizza Hut (times have moved on folks, it’s all about the dough balls now) and we laughed and joked over a glass of wine. Except this time we were buying new term bits for my rather excited and nervous big girl.
I still truly can’t believe that Mads is now less than a month away from starting primary school. Those exhilarating and exhausting newborn days where I spent most of the time eating cake and watching reruns of Sex and the City while feeding her non stop, then later those mornings at soft play where I would chase her round while she sucked on those coloured balls from the ball pit that blatantly had more germs on them than licking the floor- they all just seem to have passed us by in a blur.
And she’s ready to go. She’s more than ready for her new adventure. She’s nervous and occasionally gets a little teary and sad about leaving her friends behind at nursery, but she’s ready. She’s more than ready for this next chapter of her life. I don’t want to be one of those sad Mums. I want to be excited for her, to be excited for her next steps in this big wide world of ours. And I am, I really am. But I can’t be fully excited, because to be honest I am just not ready for this stage of our lives to be over.
We went to Clarks and bought her a pair of school shoes. She obviously chose black patent ones with little red lights in the bottom that flash when she walks. She told me that she thinks her new friends will like those ones. As I sat watching my Grandma and her in the shoe shop, it struck me just how surreal it was to be watching them. I remember sitting in that very same shop, albeit it’s been modernised somewhat, all those years ago.
Then it was on to good old M and S, where we went to get all the essentials for her uniform. We had been very kindly been given a voucher to try some out, but to be honest we would no doubt have got it from there anyway. As again it’s where I used to get my primary school uniform all those years ago too. I got emotional and had tears in my eyes watching her trying her little pinafore dress on over her clothes. What is it about that grey uniform that instantly makes them seem so much older?
We came away with a whole host of different bits- polo shirts, a couple of dresses and even a few pairs of culottes which were my compromise as I am not too sure about her wearing trousers just yet. M and S have some great ideas when it comes to school uniform, we got a couple of permanent pleat dresses and no iron bits which will hopefully help us when it comes to getting up and out the door in the mornings We also got black plimsolls, black shorts and white t-shirts ready for PE, and we even got her some cute little hair slides in her school colours- Mads wears a hat almost every single day as she loves them so it’s going to be funny not seeing her in one.
And that’s it. We are almost ready. We’ve got the branded logo jumpers and book bag on order and they should be arriving any day now. We know her class name, we have a home visit with her teacher organised in the first week of September and we’ve met the other little people in her class a couple of times too. As I sat on the floor of her and LL’s room, neatly folding her little blue polo shirts into their new designated drawer at the bottom of her wardrobe next to the pile of knee high grey socks, I got a flashback to my Mum sat on the floor of my old bedroom in our old family home years ago. She was sat on the floor with her back against the radiator, sewing label upon label into my purple school uniform. The memory was as clear as day.
When I mentioned it to her the next day she said she remembered doing it every year. I said to her that the times have moved on now and that you can get sticky labels and all sorts of things instead of having to sew everything. But she smiled wistfully at me and said ‘Get the sew on ones and I will sew them all in for you.’ I laughed and told her that it would take her ages and that she didn’t need to worry. ‘I’ll do it. I want to do it for you. I’d like to do it,’ she said.
And I completely understood what she meant. Because whether your baby is four or whether your baby is many years older than that, time moving on is a funny old thing. You can’t press pause, you can’t stop it. So you just get on with it. You soak in the memories. Revel in the sentimental moments. Breathe in the nostalgia whenever you can. And then you look forward, while wistfully glancing back too.
We are so nearly prepared for school. And while I may not ever be completely ready to let go of this stage of my daughters life, that’s just the way it goes. Time moves on. And we move on excitedly (but apprehensively) with it.
NB: M and S kindly gave us a voucher towards some school uniform but we would have got ours from there regardless. All words and opinions are my own.