If Only I Had Known, Just How Fast You’d Grow

Dear Shaniah,

You’ve been in year one now for almost three weeks. In this time I’ve realised something, something that left me feeling heavy-hearted and also, the lump in my throat feeling. You see, I realised that you are no longer my baby. I mean, to me you will forever be my baby girl, but to outsiders, your friends and other parents in your class you are no longer the definition of a baby.

As the door to your classroom opens, you no longer grab hold of my leg and hide behind it. Instead, you take your bag, say, see you later and walk on through the door. As I look at you, my heart so full of pride, you don’t see how much I’m breaking inside. Can’t we just turn back time, to the time where you needed my reassurance, where you needed me?

The other day, you went to your drawers, you grabbed your uniform, and you put them on yourself. Not a button fastened wrong, not an item inside out. My darling, I was so proud but breaking inside. Cant, we turn back the time to where you struggled with your buttons, to a time where you needed me.

Football, oh how you love your football. The days when football club is on, are the days that you savour. You are the only girl in one club and in my mind, I thought you’d come home asking to never go again but honestly? You came home and asked if it was the same time tomorrow. Gender means absolutely nothing to you. There’s no gender specifics in your little bubble.

Your football boot laces, you’ve never had a pair of lace-up shoes, we’ve always gone for buckles or velcro, you know the ones you can do with ease? Turns out you are a very quick learner. Tricky laces? Ha! Nothing is tricky when it comes to your talents. As I looked on, teary-eyed at how quick you managed to grasp tying your shoes, I couldn’t help but I wish that you needed me to tie them just one more time, that you needed me that little bit longer.

There’s so much in life that I watch you do with ease, things that only a short while ago made you frustrated. You’re mastering new things every day, things that I didn’t realise would be the last time that I would do for you. My darling, if I knew that they would have been my last time, I would have treasured them that little bit more.

The struggles of getting you to stop biting down on your toothbrush as I battled to get to the back teeth, wouldn’t have bothered me as much. If only I had known.

Those mornings where it felt like getting you dressed took an eternity because you wanted to show me a new dance move. I’d have made you show me more. If only I had known.

Those nights where you kept on coming downstairs asking me to tuck you back in. I wouldn’t have got snappy. If only I had known.

Those days you kept asking me to read you the same book over and over again because you didn’t know the words. I wouldn’t have done so reluctantly. If only I had known.

If only I had known, just how fast you would grow.

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