For the past few years I have been attending the Harvest Festival in a nearby village where my children go to pre-school and school. The pre-school are often invited, so since my daughter was 3 in 2005 I have found myself listening to "Autumn Days" and similar hymns, sung by children and teachers alike. This not only reminds me of my childhood, (they use the same hymn books: Come and Praise!) but also of the fact that I do like a good sing. But anyway...
From 2005 I have always had the child that is there with their pre-school or school, plus one other. A baby, who may or may not scream or want a feed at the most awkward time, or a toddler who is more interested in flicking the kneeler pads off the hooks in front of us.
This year I attended and two of my children sat with their school groups and the third one sat with the pre-school. I have waited for the day when I can just sit and watch them all. I've waited and longed for it. Yet now that the time has come, it really hit me that, for that half an hour at least, they no longer need me.
When I welled up in the church this morning, it was not only because I could see my son smiling as he sang, and I could see my daughter singing without skipping any words. It was also because a small part of my heart was breaking for the loss of those early days.