A letter from my daughter's nursery made me feel something I never expected

Picking my three-year-old daughter Immy up from nursery, her key worker handed me a sheet of typed paper. 

‘Of course, you’ll be an old pro at this, having already done it for Theo,’ she smiled.

As I looked down at the leaflet, my heart instantly sank. It was Immy’s application to primary/infant school information, a generic letter giving parents instructions on how to apply, via your local council’s website, for the school intake of September 2024.

Thanking the lady and picking up my little girl’s hand, I walked home, struggling to fight back the tears I suddenly found burning my eyes.

I had been so busy preparing my son Theo, now five, for year one and catching up on work after my break over the summer, that I had completely forgotten the school applications started this early. 

Knowing we had to take the first steps towards putting Immy into full-time education suddenly made my teeny-tiny little girl seem so much more grown up.

‘She’s not a baby anymore,’ I said sadly to my husband, Tom, at home.

‘She’s only three,’ he replied, in his annoyingly-reasonable way.

‘Four next month,’ I pointed out. ‘She’s not even a toddler anymore, she’s a proper pre-schooler.’

And in that moment, I felt a sudden surge of broodiness, stronger than I’d experienced in a long time. I physically ached to hold the tiny body of a newborn in my arms and feel it snuggle into me as it drifted off to sleep.

Which really threw me off-guard, because there is absolutely no way Tom and I are having a third child.

Being a mum, your life becomes full of contradictions. Like not wanting to give up your career while at the same time not wanting to put your little one in nursery. Like being quite happy to die for your children but feeling claustrophobic at the thought of having to look after them day in, day out, year after year.

But this one – the strong pangs of broodiness without wanting another baby – has really taken me by surprise.

And I’m really not sure how to handle it.

There were points, both before and after having Theo, where Tom and I did discuss having three children.

I adored being pregnant – and giving birth for the first time, despite the 26-hour labour and emergency caesarean, was one of the most incredible moments of my life. Oh, and Tom found it pretty special too.

Plus, Theo was the easiest baby in the world, always beaming and content and sleeping right through from week two.

As I mull over the question of having another baby yet again, I come to the same conclusion

But after having Immy, completely exhausted and crippled financially from the escalating nursery fees, we decided we’d stop at two.

Maybe in a perfect world, where we’d met earlier and 30 free childcare hours actually meant 30 free hours, we’d have extended our brood – but in the real world, we were done and dusted, thank you very much.

There have been moments along the way where we’ve both had doubts about that decision – when we’ve cuddled a friend’s new baby, we’ll invariably meet eyes, give each other a questioning look, then briskly shake the idea out of our heads.

Because ultimately, we know we’ve made the right choice for us. I still stand by that now.

However, that still hasn’t made the last few days, where I’ve cradled Immy close to me until she manages to squirm away, any easier. 

I’ve found myself yearning to be pregnant again, to have that moment where the ‘X’ appears on the test and you can’t stop giggling for days on end because it all feels so surreal.

Or to be buying the tiny little vests and sleepsuits that you marvel they’ll never fit into – then when they finally arrive, they’re all too big.

Or to be handed them for the first time and feeling their impossibly soft skin against yours and not being able to comprehend that you, yes you, created this perfect being, who, in those first few moments of existence, has so many possibilities ahead of them.

Even the dirty nappies and being awakened every other hour until you are a shell of your former self doesn’t seem too bad, now that I’ve had a bit of distance from it.

But then as I mull over the question of having another baby yet again, I come to the same conclusion.

No, I really don’t want another one. Theo and Immy are both old enough now that the four of us can do things together that we all actually enjoy. They’re really fun, good company who can stay up a bit later, who we can have movie nights with or take to museums or the cinema without worrying about how they’ll behave.

Also, Theo and Immy are so close, she is his little bossy shadow who he loves beyond measure, and I wonder how having a third would upset their dynamic.

And last but by no means least, we are finally on our last year of nursery fees that have cost more than our mortgage for the past five years. Having that extra money will be life-changing, quite literally.

So maybe it’s a Braxton Hicks kind of broodiness that I’ve been experiencing. Or perhaps just an extreme form of nostalgia for the life we’ve been living up until now. Tom will tell you, I don’t deal well with change.

Whatever it is, I’ll ride it out, I’m sure. After all, I have two happy, healthy children, who only drive me to distraction part of the time. Who on earth could possibly want more?

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