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How this mum’s coping with her firstborn starting big school


My firstborn is starting secondary school today.

It’s been on the calendar for weeks and it’s an occasion we’ve had more than a dozen years to prepare for, but, sigh, here we are.

And while it might only be a goodbye to primary school to some, today feels like I’m saying farewell to a childhood, the first childhood I had a hand in creating.

So, although I know I promised I wouldn’t cry, and that I’d nonchalantly wave my hand as I drove off smiling, now I’m not so sure I’ll be able to do that.

It’s not even time to leave the house and I’m already hoping my mind will stay busy today. 

I don’t want to spend the next six hours thinking about whether you’ve forgotten your password, or worrying that you couldn’t find your classroom or a buddy to sit with at lunch.

I know it will all be okay. We’ve faced bigger hurdles than this before.

But this hurdle means you’re on the brink of adolescence, and that, before we know it, you’ll be an adult. 

This hurdle signals a time for me to take a step back and let you go it alone a little bit more, and I know you keep saying you’re ready for that but, as your mum, I’m not sure I am.

No, I won’t look at the old photos on the walls before we leave the house and no I won’t let these tears escape. I promised you I wouldn’t.


I promise this morning I won’t make a fuss, it’ll be just like a “normal” school morning. 

And while I’m watching you tie the laces on your school shoes, I’ll try not to think about the times I spent teaching you how to do that.

And as you dress yourself in your new school uniform, pack your backpack with stationary and a new electronic device, I promise I won’t ask if you’ve got everything you need.

I won’t fuss over your hair or question your sock choice.

I won’t ask if you’ve brushed your teeth yet.

Because none of that matters today.

This is secondary school, high school, bigger than big school. 

This is the last step before you get to choose if there’ll be any more classroom learning.

Sure, your Year 6 teachers all said they think you’ll be fine, their written reports gave you more than a splattering of ‘B’s and ‘C’s, and because I’m your mum I’m sure I remember at least one ‘A’.

You must be ready for secondary school.

But for now I keep picturing that tiny bundle that came into our lives with such unexpected anxiety, albeit wrapped in joy.

I’m remembering the slow drive home from hospital almost 13 years ago.

I’m remembering the panic I used to feel when leaving you strapped into your baby capsule while filling the car with petrol, and the worry when I left you alone while I ran inside to pay.

The times you jumped on your surfboard and swam out beyond the waves until I could barely see you – I’d never be able to get out there in time to save you.

From childcare to kindergarten and primary school, we hugged and I sent you on your way.

And there’s been so many farewells since then, but this one feels like one of the most significant.

So, my almost-teenager starting secondary school today, I just want to say “you’ve got this my friend”.

And, to my fellow mums of an almost-teenager starting secondary school today: “I hear you”.

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