It's been a long time since I've written anything here about my children. They were my bread and butter material until they got old enough to recognise themselves in my musings. Then, when their friends starting to spot them too I knew it was time to change direction.
But once in a while it's nice to bring the old format of Imogen Clark at Home out for an airing. After all, they are still my children and I am still at home.
Yesterday my eldest left school - a momentous day in anyone's book. She took a break from her revision to parade around town with all her peers (and a few who had returned just for the occasion) - in a St. Trinianesque version of what had been her school uniform. They even had a route, beautifully downloaded from Google maps with all 14 of the intended watering holes marked on in case anyone became separated from the pack. It was a logistical triumph, I have to say.
Great fun seems to have been had by all and each time I ran into them on my many passes through town they were high-spirited (or weepy) but not annoying.
My day took a slightly different course. At various points I caught myself flicking through old photo albums, standing and staring into the middle distance and even with tears brimming over and gently trickling down my cheeks.
My beautiful, inquisitive, determined little girl is all grown up. She is almost ready to swim beyond the weir and out into the choppy, unknown waters. She is on the cusp of her big adventure.
It's really difficult to explain how this makes me feel. I am so proud of her that it makes me cry just to type that sentence and I want her to go out and learn to deal with the world, warts and all, in her own way without my way looming over her like a shadow.
But also it's a bit like grieving. I grieve for the little girl who put her hand up for me to take it as we crossed the road, who shot a glance in my direction whenever anyone praised her...or told her off, who would play for hours on a trampoline. I will never again be able to scoop her in my arms and shield her little head from harm.
Yet she is so excited about what is to come, as indeed I was at her age. Her excitement is infectious and there is no time to feel sad when she is around. I get swept up in her plans like a stick in a whirlpool, sucked down into all the froth and bubbles.
Your child growing and leaving is the most natural thing in the world. The fact that she is ready to do so shows me that I have done my job properly. Between now and then I'm sure I'll get through plenty of tissues but in the meantime I'm going to try and savour every glowing minute that she is with me....although maybe I'll wait until her hangover has worn off before I start.