Ivy has been counting down the sleeps until school starts for the last fortnight.
We've been freezing lunches.
These last few weeks, we’ve been living the final moments of the intimate bubble in which I've spent the last five years. A private little domestic world of babies and breastfeeding, toddlers and tantrums and toilet-training. Of wearing a track between the stove and the washing machine. Long days of baby illnesses and endless nights of broken sleep. My time spent almost entirely within these walls. This warm and wonderful and infuriating and precious place.
Sweet firstborn Ivy is our first chick to flee. For five years, this little girl of mine has been my whole world. I have cooked for her, washed her clothes, nursed her flu’s and soothed her worries. All, I realise now, somehow preparing her for this next chapter. The part where she trots off into the yonder without me. Those beautiful little arms and legs that I have cuddled too many times to count have somehow, sneakily, grown so big that this morning they marched my little one into school. Marched her into kindy without a backwards glance at her teary, trembly mama, who stood clutching the next-biggest child just a little too tightly. All day I have been feeling ever-so-slightly sick.
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire, said Yeats. I love this. I’m so happy for Ivy to enter a learning environment, to light that fire, to start forging her own path. I am. I feel proud of this kind, funny, interesting and clever daughter of mine and I can't wait to see what kind of mark she will make upon the world. But within me is a battle. I long to send Ivy forth to fight (and win! please, god) her battles, and at the same time I long to wrap her in my arms, pack her in my handbag and shield her from all the pain that life, and the schoolyard, can bring.
I guess the wrapping and the packing and the shielding will have to happen, from now on, outside the hours of nine and three, except for the love that I can somehow squirrel to Ivy through the medium of her lunchbox.