I left my daughter to school today. She's seven, just finishing her Primary Three year. "Just think," I said as she skipped beside me towards the classroom, "In two days, your Primary Three year will be all done and you will be a big P4."
Her eyes widened. She smiled at me. A smile I'm still getting used to. The tiny pearl white baby teeth being replaced with her grown up teeth, changing her appearance.
"Can you believe it, Mummy?" she said. And I'm not sure I can. My Facebook 'On This Day' reminder showed me a series of covert messages I'd posted eight years ago when I had just taken a pregnancy test and it had shown that longed for second blue line - but I'd simultaneously started to bleed.
I prayed for days for that baby to hold on - and she did. And now she's funny and beautiful and smart - and looking more and more grown up. Her hands still fit, beautifully in mine. She still likes to sit on my knee. ("Can I sit on your lap, Mummy?" she creeps and I always say yes because I know the day is coming when she won't want to.
Already we have reached a strange sort of a stand off at the classroom door each morning. She doesn't let me leave until her teacher has arrived. Then she offers me a funny kind of a one shouldered hug effort before diving into her class. No more kisses. No more giant hugs. But she always stops at her classroom door and looks at me as if for some sort of reassurance and I always tell her I love her and she skips on.
She needs me still - but the day is coming when I won't even be proffered they awkward shoulder hug.
Today after I left the wee doll to school, I had the task of taking the boy (now 12, almost as tall as me and with a man-deep voice) to school to drop him off for a two day residential trip.
I knew better. I knew there would be no hug. I knew there would be no kiss on the cheek, no awkward shoulder hug. I knew he wouldn't look back for reassurance and that he was batter on - head dipped in that teen cool manner, a bit of a swagger in his step as he headed off for his two day adventure.
As I lifted his bag out of the car for him I managed a secret quick squeeze of his arm and I had to content myself with that.
We all know our children are going to grow up. We all know that it will all seem too fast. We all know what lies ahead - but knowing it doesn't make it easier to feel.
If I could bottle the warmth of their hugs, the feeling of them on my knee, the cries of "Mummmeeeeeee" - then I would because the day will come when I will miss it.
In fact, I'm starting to think that day has already dawned.
Why Skirting the Issue?
For 14 years I wrote my Skirting the Issue column for the Derry Journal each Friday - I may have moved on, but I still have opinions!