After I chatted to other mums, we sat down to listen to a presentation by a new school in Dubai. I didn’t concentrate fully, as we have already accepted a place at a different school for September – so as the headmaster chatted, I let my mind wander as I looked at the photos of smiling children in his presentation.
I imagined Stanley doing these things Playing in a playground, talking to his teacher, going on trips to museums. I couldn’t wait to see how much he enjoyed it all.
But then it hit me right in the pit of my stomach.
I won’t see any of those things.
I will be at work or at home with his little brother. He will have to do all these things on his own, without me holding his hand, without me to comfort him when he’s feeling lost, without me to take pictures of him trying new sports or activities. I won’t get to hear him trying out words in his Arabic classes, I won’t get to see him rushing around the playground with a new group of friends, I won’t get to watch his face as he listens to a story with wide eyes, an open mouth, and crossed legs.
I could hear the headmaster’s voice, but my mind was elsewhere. Tears pricked my eyes – as for the first time, I realised I had to let him experience it all on his own.
This is his journey, not mine.
He needs so much more than me. He needs a teacher with a welcoming hug when I drop him off. He needs a football coach to pick a position and teach him how to dribble a ball. He needs a school nurse to take his temperature when his nose starts to run. He needs a best friend to play chase with in the playground and sit next to in class. He needs his Daddy to read him a story when he gets home from work. He needs his brother to be the first to try out creations from his toy kitchen and have shouting matches with when they are taken out to tea. He needs his grandparents to give him love, hugs, and ‘don’t tell your mum’ treats when we’re back in the UK. He needs his cousins to grow up with, sitting next to at pantomimes and jumping through puddles on winter walks. He needs his aunties, his uncles, and his godparents to ruffle his hair and remark ‘wow, you’ve grown!’ before taking him on adventures or building train tracks on the living room floor.
We are all so important.
Not just me.
I don’t underestimate my role for a moment – and I am grateful for every moment, every bed time kiss, every time he leans his body into mine and lingers for a second for comfort. I know that in years to come, I will look back at these crazy days with a two-year-old and a one-year-old and miss them with an ache in my belly.
But today I realised he needs more than just me.
And I have until September to get my head around that. He’s my baby until then, at least.