Today many of you will say a fond farewell to the baby you knew. Your little one will leave the safety of your arms and walk in the classroom door to a new world. No longer will you be the main influence on their lives. An unfamiliar phrase will soon become common, ‘Teacher says’. A new era in their little lives will have begun. You will be no less their mother, but they will be a little less your baby.
Here in my home my youngest begins sixth class. I can remember the tears of her first day, and they were not hers! Now seven years later I am relieved, knowing that she has another year in this school. It has been a wonderfully happy experience for her. Next year she will leave this lovely place which has introduced her to new friends, given her a love of Irish, and encouraged her to be the best she can be. Next year another phase in our lives will begin. Thankfully not until next year.
As I brought her to school today, this tall twelve year old, a senior, we both ‘Awwed’ over the many little ones we saw, hand in hand with their parents. Some skipped, some strolled and some fell at the last hurdle and needed to be carried. I said goodbye to my ‘little one’ at the gates, and as she walked away, carefully groomed ponytail bouncing from side to side, the years fell away, and with a physical pain in my heart I wondered, ‘Where did my five year old go?’
On arriving home I pulled out my old writing case. I was looking for a card. A card sent to me eight years ago when this girl was that five year old. I sat on my bed and looked at it. On the cover was a black and white drawing of two teddy bears, sitting on a bench backs facing me, arms around each other. It said ‘Thinking of you’. Inside, was a now yellowed cut out from a newspaper, below which my Mom had written,
‘Tric, I have this from your 1st day at school. Love from Mum.
First Day At School.
She will take him by the hand
And lead him through the portals
Of a strange unknown land,
The youngest of her brood
The fledgling leaves the nest_
She will pretend and jest
To hide the rising tears
And grasp his little fingers tighter
As if to cling a little longer
To remembered years.
But she is a mother
And her unquiet fears
She must conceal and smile
Upon his shining face
Upturned for that embrace
Her tears will flow
As homewards-alone-she will go.
This morning reading that poem I indulged myself and let tears fall. I cried for my babies who were babies no longer. I cried for the mothers facing this moment today. I also cried for the mothers who were missing their babies, and for Daniel and Ben who were not putting on school uniforms today.
First day at school is a big day in all our lives. I hope where ever you are that your little one was happy and that you managed to wait until they were settled before any tears were shed.