A little under an hour ago, I watched you stand in the doorway. One foot in the shadow of your babyhood, and one confidently stepping into your future. Your face was shining with excitement, and from a recent encounter with a face cloth. Your hair was unusually smooth and neat. You looked so grown up in your uniform, and yet so little.
It is the day you have been counting down to for months. The one you've sulked because it was taking too long to get here. It's here.
In the face of it, you suddenly had a concern.
"I don't know where the toilets are, Mummy."
My heart sank with the weight of the mental image I was having: my small boy in a place where I couldn't help him, not knowing where to go. I seized the moment, ready to swoop in with some mothering.
Then your face brightens. 'I know,' you quickly tell me, "I can ask my teachers". I am not needed after all.
I hold your hand as we walk to school. There is so much going through my head, but I don't say it; you wouldn't really understand. I say nothing and squeeze your hand as we walk and chat with Daddy.
I want to say how grateful I am to have you in my life, and how proud I am that you are my little boy.
I want to thank you for every moment we have shared over the past four years, ten months and two days. I remember laying you, newborn, on my bed and just looking at you and looking at you. You were scrunched up, and your little fists jerked uncontrollably and brushed against your chubby cheeks and I just couldn't stop staring at you, the miracle that you are, and thinking, 'this is my baby'.
In those early days, I was still adjusting to being a mother, and the whole world felt upside down. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I could believe that you and I were the only two people who were in it.
Since the day you were delivered into my arms, I have been so deeply in love with you. Everything you do is interesting and amazing to me – from the first time you made little baby sounds right up to your recent ability to read. I am so proud of you.
When I watch you playing with your little sister, and the bond that the two of you have, I feel like I could just burst. I don't 'just' love you two, you are two big pieces of my heart – and one of those pieces just ran off into school without me.
It's not all been easy. You've been so sickly during the winters, and once or twice you really scared me with your breathing problems. I've been in an ambulance with you, in A&E a few times and by the side of your bed watching you breathe more times than I want to remember. You've caused me to find depths and reserves of patience, and of ability to go without sleep that I had no idea I possessed. You've given me the ability to be truly unselfish, as I put your needs before my own, up to and including holding your shaking body close to my own, to comfort you, as you vomited all over me. I had no idea how terrifying it could be to see someone so small and so very precious to you struggling with an illness – and I know how lucky we are that your health is good, overall.
Sometimes you're naughty or cheeky, and I doubt myself and wonder if I'm doing something wrong that means you're behaving that way. Am I being too soft on you? Am I being too harsh on you? You make me constantly question myself, worry and doubt myself. Sometimes I feel like I nag, nag, nag you all day long. Sometimes you drive me crazy and I go to the supermarket after you're in bed, just to walk around and look at stuff and think about how to do better.
I can honestly say, though, that the last four years, ten months and two days have been the best of my life. We've had so much fun, haven't we? Swimming lessons, walks, picnics (both the in garden and under table varieties), holidays by the sea, soft play, gymnastics, muddy puddles, new bicycles, birthday cakes, friends to play, feeding ducks, going to zoos, riding on little steam trains, farm visits, family times, Santa visiting, paddling pools, toys (and toys and toys and toys!), favourite meals, rugby practice, fairground rides, shopping trips oh and so, so much more. So much more that it feels like nothing I say can do credit to the happy pre-school days we have shared together. I am beyond grateful that I have been able to spend this precious time with you. I love everything about being your mummy.
I'm thinking about you now – are you thinking about me? I hope not. That's the bittersweet joy of watching your children grow. I want you to have the most awesome afternoon of painting and stories and making friends. Not for a second do I want you to wish that your mummy was there to give you a cuddle. At the same time, it makes my heart ache to think that you could go a whole afternoon in a new place and not even stop for a second to need a cuddle from your mummy. I miss you, my funny little friend! When I go to pick you up, I'll give you a great big cuddle anyway, and I'll pretend it's for your sake.
I know that with this ending to our pre-school days, an exciting new chapter begins. I know that I am going to love being mummy to a big grownup schoolboy, and that you are going to astound me with what you are capable of, and give me an as yet unknown wealth of new things to be proud of. Our relationship is going to change and grow – we're going to be able to have such interesting chats, and I'm thankful that I've still got years of hugs and holding your hand without embarrassment.
It's strange to think that this is the first part of your life's journey that you have to travel without me by your side. It's wonderful to realise that you are a both piece of me, out there in the world, and your very own self, that is nothing to do with me. I have done everything in my power to prepare you for this next step, and to provide you with the best place to step to that I possibly can. Make the very most of it, my best boy.
I can't wait to go and pick you up in a little while, to hold your small hand in mine as we walk home and to listen to you filling me in on the part of your day that I have not shared. You're big enough to go to school, and little enough to want to tell your mummy all about it.
I love you so.