THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to my newsletter.

It’s that time of the year, busy with Christmas preparations, end-of-school services, speech days, and a graduation:

The spec family

Us and our specs

Our eldest has finished school. Hard to believe, really, as I still think of our family as looking like this:

2003

2003

But no, this isn’t us anymore. Somewhere along the line, we’ve changed. I didn’t notice the changes, not a single one of them, so I don’t know when or how it happened, just that it has: we have grown up.

And it took only a few short, and increasingly shorter, years …

I’m sure it was only a couple of years’ ago that I was huddled inside the ladies’ loo at the Royal Hobart Hospital watching that second pink line on the pregnancy test appear. Soon after, we were allowed a peek:

Aww!

July 1995

Surely, it wasn’t that long ago that I stood in the shower and ran my hand over the bulge rising from my pelvis. And it was only a couple of Christmases ago that I posed on the verandah of our first house proudly showing off my bump.

Proud of bump

Bump pride

It was only a few years’ ago, wasn’t it?

As a child, I remember time ticking in slow-motion towards big events like the Royal Show, a plane flight, or Christmas, as I counted off the days, one-by-one, wishing the big day would just hurry up and come.

That’s how I awaited the birth of our children — impatient and itching to meet them. It seemed to take forever until I held them in my arms:

Baby Isabelle

Baby Isabelle

But since then, I’m sure the clocks have sped up. (I have this as-yet-unproven theory that it’s all due to global warming causing the world to spin faster.) Anyway, for us the time has whizzed by like an express train, as it does when you’re having fun. And the fun hasn’t stopped — the present we received at the birth just kept on giving:

Smiles

Smiles

Glamourous bathers and sunglass shots

Glamorous photo opportunities

Help washing the cars

Help washing the car

Cheap secretarial work

Free secretarial work

On and on, milestone after milestone, more and more happy times.

First day at school:

First day of school

2000

Learning to write:

I have no recollection of the song 'God wished to make a fish' or its melody.

Sadly, I can’t remember how the song ‘God wished to make fish’ went …

More of these gifts-that-keep-on-giving arrived, one after the other (I was slightly addicted), until we had four of them:

The fifth one in the photo is a doll

Yes, we did only have four kids — one of these is a doll.

Meanwhile, our eldest kept growing taller:

Launceston waterfront

And singing:

And singing

 

And playing clarinet:

Playing clarinet

In about 388 school assemblies and concerts …

Even when she learned to drive it didn’t hit me that she was growing up:

Driving

After all, this was the girl who’d travelled to Brisbane at ten, to New Zealand at fourteen, and to France at sixteen — all without her parents. Encouraged by us, I might add. ‘Go off and see the world,’ we said. Back then, at least we knew that she would be returning to the nest, but we didn’t see what we were setting ourselves up for in the future …

So, while I was distracted by her life, I forgot to notice that at sometime, she’d gone from this:

Kindy photo

2000

To this:

Year 12 Concerto Night

2013

Time had ticked forwards and taken her with it. In fact, it had shifted all of us along with it so that we’re no longer a young family — we’re now an almost-grown family.

The day of graduation dawned warm and sunny, as December days tend to do in Perth. The auditorium filled with excited Year Twelves who had wriggled into their school uniforms for the last time. The ceremony passed smoothly and predictably, with speeches and song and applause, until towards the end, our daughter began to play her clarinet. My eyes and those of my husband filled. This is it, I thought. She’s leaving school. She’s all grown up!

DSC_9059

So school is over for her. Finished and no more. Onwards and upwards. And interstate, she says.
Excuse me? Did you say interstate?
Yes. But you knew that, she says.
But that was before. When it wasn’t so … so imminent.

Part of me wants to keep her here, around our dinner table, under our roof, so we can stay together as a family and I can still pretend we look like this:

My kids how they still look

How I think the kids look

But I won’t — I’ll let her go. I’ll stand at the airport and wave her off, just as I did when she went on her student trips. And I’ll wait here for when she returns, whenever that will be, and I’ll hope that it’s often and for a long time. And I’ll keep reminding myself that this is what I’ve encouraged her to do and be — to go out and experience as much of the world as she can, while she can. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Really, I wouldn’t. Just give me a little while to get used to it.

And if you’re looking for me, I’ll be in with the photo albums, remembering times like this:

Issy baby photos-27

And when she wrote this:

News

And having a little weep.

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THE SISTERS' SONG

Coming January 2018 (Allen and Unwin)

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