The baby has started primary one. Over the course of the last week I have felt every emotion known to mammyhood.
There is no moment quite like sitting out little black school shoes for the first time - seeing them shiny and new in preparation for the big day. They looked so small, and yet so grown up. These formal shoes, sitting beside the pinafore and the tie, the cardigan and the shirt - and the requisite long white socks.
Packing a tiny school bag - pencils and rubbers, sharpeners and a little snack box for her morning fruit - it all felt like it was too soon. I felt as if I should still be packing a baby bag with nappies and dummies and soft, rattly toys.
Sure I know she is four-and-a-half. I know she is more than ready in herself - and more than capable.
I am grateful that she is happy and healthy enough to be heading out into the big, scary world of school. But how my heartstrings pulled when I dressed her and put the green ribbons in her hair.
It was there in that moment - an acceptance that she is growing up. That time will continue to pass and my baby is not a baby any more. It was as if, in that moment, I could see her and all those milestones I hope she will enjoy pass before my eyes.
I thought of the tiny baby she was, the curled up, wide eyed infant who was put in my arms after a hard labour. I thought of her first steps, her first words, her first toothy smile. I thought of the first time she told me loved me and the first time she rode her bike around her granny’s garden. I thought of the first time she told me she wanted to get married (originally she wanted to marry her cousin, Ethan, now she wants to marry Harry Styles).
And I thought of the firsts to come. The first wobbly tooth. The first day at secondary school. Her first boyfriend. Her first night out without adult supervision. Her wedding day, her becoming a mother herself and watching her own child put on his or her uniform for their own first day at school.
It’s not a bad list of things to reflect on or look forward to. I pray, of course, she will experience all the highs that life has to offer and will always be content in herself and with her place in the world.
But a mammy’s emotions are rarely rational.
For all the new school mammies out there - take it easy this week. Drink tea, stay calm. Remember they are still your babies, and you will always be their mammy. Embrace their new adventure - and embrace them too.