I’m awake, my eyes sting from another night of broken sleep, things take twice as long to do because my head feels like it’s full of fluffy cotton wool. My heart is heavy because I know what day it is as I rush around getting ready to go to work. I can hear daddy telling you that it’s nursery Wednesday and my heart sinks lower as you cry and protest.
I cajole you into the car, all smiles again and chattering away as your chubby little fingers clutch tightly the little yellow ducks you insisted on taking with you. It seems all memories of nursery are forgotten for the moment as you question hopefully to see if we are going to see nanna and gaga. I remind you it’s school time and as I drive along (wondering if I’ve got my keys, lunch, sanity!) your moans of displeasure escalate the closer we get to nursery.
Lifting you out of the car, one of your ducks takes a tumble and I’m overwhelmed by your concern and desire that no one gets left behind. I turn and rummage around in the car and the duck is back with you, clutched against your body and I know that I’ll be the only one who is left behind today, returning to an empty car. You grow quieter as we near your classroom, I know you my love better than anyone, I can sense your apprehension and tighten my grip on those sticky little hands, trying to give reassurance as we enter the room. I see the confused look on your face as you bury it in my legs, your arms wrap themselves around me in a desperate attempt to stay with me, your eyes say ‘don’t leave me, why would you leave me’ as you are prised away from me. It feels like my heart is breaking in two as you start to cry and your voice is loaded with emotion ‘No mama no no no’ but still I have to leave you. All I can do is smile bravely and wave and tell you I’ll be back tonight, I don’t feel brave, I feel broken. I leave to the cries of my baby as another woman comforts you, it goes against every instinct I have and I’m rooted to the spot just out of view in the corridor. I’m willing my legs to move but contemplating rushing back in and swaddling you in the tightest embrace and my eyes are welling up.
My beautiful baby girl, growing every day in front of my eyes, I try to remember I’m only here to guide you. I won’t always be able to with you on your journey but I do know that wherever you go, I’ll only ever be one step behind you.