We just unpacked son number one's bag from school. There are only two days left of his year in Reception, and in that cliched fashion, I can't believe how fast it has gone by and what an emotional wreck it leaves me looking through evidence of how my baby is growing up.
There is a fashion nowadays to send home a book full of photos, work, quotes and pictures to show you just what your child has been up to all day. The other week we had one home from son number two's nursery, filled with pictures of him wreaking havoc and having fun. It's a delicious record of those secret hours they spend away from home, and the first precious possession I would rescue from my burning home.
I remember gluing in the pictures of Power Rangers and pizza before my firsborn started school, making the book together just like we had done everything together for the whole of his short life. We talked about his favourite things and what made him who he was and the biggest part of that was mummy, daddy and his family. Since starting school he has grown so much more independent, bringing friends and teachers into his circle of influence, learning to read and write about his own likes and dislikes, and although I am so proud of the boy he has become I desperately miss my baby. That chubby toddler who depended on me for everything and who is disappearing before my eyes like the morning mist on a hot summer day.
He is impatient with my tears as nostalgia prickles them from my eyes. 'Mummy, why are you crying?', he says, puzzled and just a little bit irritated. You can almost hear the man in him dismissively snorting 'Women!'. I can understand why he is in such a rush to move on, life is so exciting and round every corner there is a new adventure for him. But for me he is my adventure and every corner he turns he is getting further away from me.
I always thought that my years as a mummy to little children would be the best of my life, although at times I can't wait for them to be done with, but I never understood how having a child presses the fast forward button on his parents' lives. Where once one year was much the same as the next, perhaps I got a promotion or moved from one job to another, but essentially the monotony of working meant time passed slowly. But now as I watch my babies grow from a toddlers to boys, I have a yard stick to see just how fast the sands of time are whizzing.
I know this all sounds rather maudlin, and in actual fact I'm not that sad about it. I just wish sometimes that sometimes I could step off the most amazing rollercoaster of my life, bringing up my boys, and savour a moment in time, capture it in amber and keep it with me for more than the fleeting days, weeks or months that it lasts in real life.
I am so proud of my gorgeous son. I thrill to his achievements, swell with admiration over what a beautiful boy he has become. I adore his clever wit, his lithe good looks, his excellent manners (who knows where he got them from?), but sometimes I want to wrap him in a cuddle and rewind to the days when his soft baby body would melt into mine, drifting off into dreams of milk and mummy, rather than arching to run away and play on his computer. I want to hold on to the wobbly moment of his first steps, the goobledegook of first words, the aimless days whiled away at the park, ice cream dripping down his face, bread meant for duck feeding ending up in his toddler tummy, when his greatest pleasure was spending time with me.
But instead I must stay firmly strapped into my seat and try to enjoy the ride. At least I have all those books sent home from school and nursery to remind me of all the best loop the loops we have left behind.