For three years, I have been driving to my children's pre-school, initially son1 and most recently son2. I've stood waiting in the lobby for the doors to open, getting to know the many mums who wait alongside me. I've walked into the pre-school at the end of a day and watched how my son's face lights up as he searches for me, then barrels over, throwing his (usually sticky) little arms around my neck.
We've spent years carrying home painted pine cones, pasta pictures and glitter art, most of which still live on the back seat of my car. We've lost hats, wellies, raincoats and jumpers. We've gained underpants, shorts and t-shirts from origins unknown. We've got years and years worth of progress reports, showing at what age my boys could stack blocks, make puzzles, play make believe and hop on one foot. They're mini time capsules, showing how they've progressed from babies to big boys.
I've sat through sports days in blazing heat and driving rain, laughing as the tiny little people attempt to balance an egg on a spoon and crying when my boys have managed it with looks of utter concentration on their faces.
I've been on the pre-school committee, going to meetings, organising fund-raisers, doing the PR. I've baked more cakes for fetes and fairs than I care to remember. I've met people and made friends, having moved here not knowing a soul.
I've come to know the staff who have looked after and loved both of my boys. They know my sons almost as well as I do. How do they manage to say goodbye to children year after year?
Because today I got to say goodbye to them. Today is my son's last day of pre-school. Forever. Here on in he is a school child. No longer a baby. And while I've been longing for this day to come, so that I no longer have to do the five minute drive there and back and will gain an extra hour of work time every day, now that it's here I can't stop crying.
It's the end of an era. A life chapter closing. I know there are plenty of exciting chapters ahead, but I can't help shedding a tear for the one that's just ended.
To all at Chieveley Pre-School who helped my children have wonderful memories, thank you.