Youngest daughter has now completed a full week at school. By and large I think she is enjoying it, although there have been a few shaky moments. Looking up at me as I tucked her into bed one night last week and saying solemnly “I’ve been thinking about it, Mummy, and I actually think I’d prefer to be back at Nursery, and come home at lunchtime”, which made my heart hurt a bit; and tears on another day because she had fallen over at playtime and grazed her elbow, but no-one could see the graze under her long-sleeved cardi, and she had been crying too much to explain.

I really think, and hope, that these are just teething troubles, though. She is very ready for school and for learning and for spending lots of time with her friends, and we are incredibly lucky that her school has a brilliantly child-centred and play-based approach.

I am missing her SO much, though. The house is incredibly empty and quiet, and I feel little pangs when I do something like make my own lunch without filling the sections on her little meal tray that she had used ever since she was just a baby. There are so many babies and toddlers in our area, and for many years now I have been part of the buggy-pushing/sling-wearing/toddler-wrangling club. Not any more. I have another pang when I see a mum holding her toddler’s hand as they head out somewhere together, or sitting in a cafe reading a story. I even have a pang as I pass the little play area which has been the bane of my life for years because it is right on the route we take to the shops or library or station, and every single time we passed, in either direction, my daughter would beg to play. Very often I really didn’t want her to, because we were in a rush, or it was cold, or wet, or I had heavy bags of shopping, and then I would have to deal with the resultant tantrum. Or it would be a time when I could acquiesce and then it was fun for both of us for 5 minutes, but continued being fun for my daughter for at least 25 minutes after it had become mind-numbingly boring for me.

I have already done a few things which I would have struggled to do with a preschooler in tow. Had lunch in a local cafe with a friend. Reorganised some cupboards. Sorted some paperwork. Been to a Macmillan Coffee morning. Had a GP appointment and then follow-up blood test. All things which are technically possible in the company of a strong-willed 4 year old, but tend not to be particularly enjoyable.

I think the year at school nursery is such a perfect one. She went to nursery every morning, and loved it, and two days a week she stayed for lunch and the afternoon session, so I had plenty of time to myself, but three days I picked her up at 11.30am, and we had lunch together, and then the afternoon to potter around together. Now we have lost our pottering time, and she is so tired after school that it’s fairly hard work just to avoid a danger nap, circumnavigate the over-tired tantrums and get her fed and to bed.

I’ll get over it, and it’s all fine really, but right now I just can’t shake the feeling that something, someone is missing.

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