There were tears, of course, when Arch had his first day at school – and they were all mine.
They started on Friday when I dropped him off at nursery for his last day there. I came home and wept those kind of from-the-belly tears that go on for a long time.
I only cried a little bit when I saw him in his school uniform for the first time on Monday morning and then a bit more when a friend sent me a photograph and some apposite words about the love being in the letting go.
I cried remembering his first day at nursery, his first night in a cot, his first solids, the time I bagged up his 0 – 3 month baby-gros and put them in the loft.
I cried remembering the two of us being in hospital. Me – battered, bruised, bloated, iron-deficient, utterly exhausted, on a drip, using a catheter, unable to move from the chest down. Arch – exquisite, opening his mouth, like a fish needing food, and searching for my tender, aching breast, not knowing what to do with it when he found it.
I cried remembering that primal urge, as fierce as a tiger.
It never goes.
The grief gets hidden
The grief gets hidden as we go about our day to day business, but these rites of passage, these separations and letting-gos, bring it to the forefront of consciousness.
It won’t get any easier. I will be crying again when Arch leaves primary school, when he leaves secondary school, when he leaves home… He will look like a young man. I will look like a woman in my late 50s.
But I will be that fluid-filled bag of a mum on morphine in hospital wincing with pain as I try yet again to get my red swollen nipple in that tiny toothless mouth.