We have recently been doing a tour of high school open evenings. My daughter, my baby, is in her last year of primary school and we are visiting a number of schools so that she can choose where she goes. This has led to a whole host of mixed feelings in me. Firstly I cannot believe how quickly the last 11 years have gone. Secondly, school seems to have changed so much since I was there, it looks a lot more interesting! Thirdly, what a shame it is that we do not appreciate it at the time. School days, although not without their own ups and downs, are free of many of the stresses and worries of adulthood and working life, and if I could go back now I would want to learn, and would make much better use of the opportunity to do so. But the strongest of these emotions comes from the increasing pace with which time passes. My baby is no longer a baby, far from it, she is growing up so quickly and that is bittersweet. She has always been a lot of fun, fully living up to her middle name, Joy, but as she has grown she has shed a lot of her shyness and self consciousness and shares her Joy increasingly with those outside our home. Yet I miss the times when she would climb sleepily into our bed in the early morning. I’ve got to be honest, I wasn’t always happy to see her, especially on weekends when I could have slept longer, but now that those times are over I am left with a little sadness at their loss. She no longer pesters me to play with her and her dolls, when I would rather be doing something else, and now I mourn the missed opportunities. Bedtimes are significantly quicker as I no longer need to read chapters of her favourite books when she reads them herself. So for now I will make sure to make the most of the times she does want to spend with me, for in no time at all she will be testing her budding independence. A few years ago I wrote this poem about her. It will always put a smile on my face.
Early each morning Sleeping Beauty creeps into our bed.
She rises with the sun and plods, slumber footed, into our room
Wriggling her way between us, she lifts my arm to wrap it around her,
Snuggles in and let’s sleep claim her once more.
Roused from my dreams I smile at the warmth of her against me,
This innocent child of mine.
Hovering between sleep and wakefulness, I try to re-enter my dreams,
But cannot, and so I gaze through sleep fogged eyes
At the perfect curve of her cheek, speckled with a gentle spread of tiny freckles;
At her long lashes, fanning out on her cheek below the lids that currently hide
her brilliant blue eyes from my view.
This beautiful face, so full of love and trust, causes my heart to swell.
Her delicate, wilful, big-hearted, enthralling personality radiates through every pore.
I am tempted to squeeze her into me,
to hold her so tight as if to never let go,
but I do not wish to wake her, so I content myself instead with a gentle kiss on her forehead.
Drifting away, my eyes close once more,
as a dreamy smile crosses my face
And I rest with our beloved Phoebe Joy in my arms.