In October 2016 we sent Florence off for her first day at playgroup. She had just turned 3 and up until that point all childcare duties had fallen to me, @mother_freckle, the in laws or my parents. Up until that point we had not felt comfortable putting her into nursery or playgroup for a number of reasons but mostly due to her allergies.
However it got to a point where we thought we needed to do it. We needed to let her go and play with kids her own age as opposed to a load of old farts who she tires out after 5 minutes. It was difficult because it meant trusting people outside our family who had at that time no emotional connection to our daughter. We were quite frankly putting her life in their hands.
We looked around the local area for the best place to send her. Lucky for us the local primary school has a little church building in the grounds where the local playgroup is. So we scoped it out and as soon as we walked through the doors we knew this was the place for her. It was family run and just had that homely comfortable feeling about it. We told them all about Florence’s allergies and they did not bat an eye lid. They took it all on board reassured us and told us they would book on all necessary training. They even told us they would change the butter they use to one we use to ensure Flo was safe.
On the first day I was a bag of nerves. She had seemed so big but sending her off made me realise how small she was. It was only a half day little taster but I couldn’t stop checking my phone hoping it was 12pm and we could go get her. When those to little hands ticked to 12 and the doors opened me and the Mrs ran in to find her. She was sat happily with the other kids with a big smile on her face. On the way home she couldn’t stop talking about Aunty Lisa and Eliza and how Eliza was her best friend but not Riley because Riley was silly. It melted my heart and I knew she would be fine.
Over the past 10 months she has grown so much and learnt so much. The playing, the painting, the glitter, the reading, the learning, the all round play that she has enjoyed has 100% made making that decision worthwhile. Its helped make her the wonderful, intelligent, confident, happy, sociable, assertive little lady she is today. She has made some little friends who will now go with her to school and we have made some little friends to, so our social circle has grown. It needed to we had no couple friends up until playgroup came along so we’ve gained so much from it as well.
And today brought the curtain down on this little adventure. I didn’t expect it to be as emotional as it was but it got me. Seeing all the playgroup staff in tears had me in tears. It also showed me how amazing and caring they are and how we were so right to trust them with Florence. They told us how much they will miss her and had nothing but wonderful things to say about Flo and it made me feel so proud. I felt proud of my wife and I for how we are raising our little girls. I felt proud at how well our families do in helping us raise them. But mostly I felt proud of Florence. No matter what comes her way she just seems to take it in her stride. I sometimes feel we ask to much of her, but she just seems to relish it and be unfazed by it all.
I imagine many of you are in a similar position today. I imagine you feel the same way as I do right now. An absolute bag of different emotions; sad because they are growing up and moving on; happy because they have had a wonderful adventure and grown so much; excited for the next adventure whilst also being anxious about what this may bring. I think it’s normal to be a bit all over the show at such milestones. We go through so many of these as parents it can be quite easy to forget them. And I think that’s why I wrote this. Its to help me process everything that has happened in this chapter of our lives, reflect on it and learn from it. I think sometimes I get caught up in a lot of things and maybe don’t spend enough time being present and appreciating what’s happening now in this moment. Before I’ve known it it’s gone. So I am making a promise to myself to be more mindful.
Anyways I wish you and your little ones all the best in your next adventures. And if any of the staff at Flo’s playgroup happen to read this… Thank you.