Experiences Learnings Life My Journey Tangents Toddler (1-2yo)

The first day of school

Since last week, mommies all over South Africa have watched their babies head off to their first day of school, with tears in our throats and big smiles plastered on our faces. I think the tears are there whether it is the first day of playschool, nursery school, preschool, pre-primary, primary school, high school or university – no matter what their age, they are our babies and a first day of school is another siren making sure we realise, as if watching them alone wasn’t enough, that they are growing up, moving away from us, becoming more of themselves.


Tomorrow is my baby’s first day of school. There will be many first days of school in our future, but never the first day of school for my first baby. We are both heading into the unknown and I am terrified and heartbroken.

Today is the last day ever that I will know everything that she experiences in a day. Today is the last day ever that she is is made up of only what she was born with and what we have taught her, shown her or given her.
Today is the last day I will know where every scratch or bruise is from, because today is the last day I will be there to help her up from every single tumble and dust her off and kiss it better.
Today is the last day that I will get every single inside joke.
Today is the last day that I will know every person she sees or talks to.
Today is the last day that I will know every child that loves her or might bully her.
Today is the last day that I will personally be able to keep her safe from anything and everything I choose.

From tomorrow everything changes.

I have to keep telling myself that I have chosen carefully and well. Her school has been there forever. Her teacher has been teaching as long as I’ve been alive. They have seen so many different little people through there. They know as much as it is possible to know about how to nurture and grow my baby’s incredible intellect. They know how to teach her to nurture and grow her strength and her independence. They know how to keep her safe. I need to trust them to be my warriors when my baby falls or faces fears or unknowns or nastiness from others. I chose them because they have as much heart as smarts, and that’s what my baby needs. I have to keep telling myself I have chosen carefully and well.

This is just another lesson in letting go because that is what they need. The first time they roll over or sit or crawl or walk or run or climb – our hearts sit in our throats and we start the balancing act of smiling because we are happy that they are growing so beautifully and the aching because they are growing apart from us.

To every single mommy facing this great unknown today or tomorrow or yesterday or next week – we can do this, because they need us to. They can do this – they are stronger than we know and we will learn that every day.

I am sending you so much love. I will be there with you as you sit outside the school crying in your car. I will be there with you as you walk into a quiet empty house and instead of wishing for silence wish for the crazy chaos that is your baby. I will be there with you as you drink your coffee and stare at the clock. I will be there with you as you check your phone a million times to make sure that it is working and the sound is on. I will be there with you as you park outside the school way earlier than you should and wait impatiently. And I will be there with you as you see your baby playing and happy when you arrive, when your baby lifts her eyes and sees you there and that smile that is always always JUST for you explodes all over that perfect face. I will be there with you as they throw their arms around you and snuggle into that spot that was made just for them.

One day, probably too soon, you and your baby will eagerly await the first day of school. Your heart will still break as you watch them walk away, but they will smile and wave or maybe even forget to in the rush to join their friends. And your heart will break a little more for that.

One day at a time. And if you need to chat or cry or if you feel guilty or happy or guilty for feeling happy – I am always here! Drop me a mail or send me a message and I will try to answer as fast as I can. You are not alone.

Sending all the love xx

18 replies on “The first day of school”

Last year my Lb started playgroup 3 days a week, and i remember it was so devastating to no longer know what happened every minute of his day… its pretty big adjustment. He just started preschool yesterday and i think i was way more nervous than him.

Hi Mandy,

Thanks for this beautifully written piece. Just what I needed to help mend my broken heart. All the best, I look forward to hearing about Charly’s first day. I hope it’s gentle for you and her.

Lots of love,

My little girl started daycare for this year today. Hubby said when he dropped her off this morning all the kids were screaming like possessed souls.I am just happy I don’t have to do the morning rounds!All the strongs Mandi!

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