As I stood brushing my teeth this morning, the realisation dawned upon me that this was the last time.
This was the last time I would be rushing to get to school and waiting for my mum to arrive to look after The Boy. The last time that I'd be coming home and asking, "What did he have for lunch?" or "Has he had a nap?".
The end of an era, almost.
The moment I announced my pregnancy in 2008, it was an unspoken agreement that mum would be looking after our child in order for me to return to work part-time. She was there throughout the pregnancy; gently giving advice, delivering me to appointments, keeping me company in the last fortnight when I was driven mad with polymorphic eruption of pregnancy, and sitting in the consultant's office with me and demanding they induce me because my quality of sleep was detrimental to my health.
On the day he was born, she raced back from Dorset having buried her aunt that morning, to hold her newest grandchild; her youngest child's firstborn. She and dad arrived after visiting hours had ended, but the nurses let them in for the moment I'd been waiting for all day.
When I fell down the stairs and ripped out my episiotomy stitches a week post-birth, she was there to care for The Boy while I went to the doctor's.
When I was delirious with exhaustion, swollen and engorged from severe mastitis, she was there to pass the savoy cabbage leaves.
When The Boy fell unconscious at three weeks old, she was there to tell me to phone for an ambulance.
When the three doctors and four nurses worked on him to determine the cause of his sudden decline, she couldn't be there. She was standing outside sobbing and trying not to let us see her fear. In the days following this, she was there in the hospital to let me sleep, feed me, keep me company in our isolation ward.
When I sobbed at having to return to work in May 2010, she was there to hold me and dry my tears.
When The Boy started walking and talking while I was at work, she was there but knew enough to keep quiet and let us have 'the first time'.
When he made so many discoveries about the world he lives in, she was there to guide him, to coax him, to explain, to share his wonder.
Yes, there are times she's driven me barmy. But how can I truly be aggravated by someone who loves my child so much? How can I complain about the fact that she wedges half the airing cupboard up at his window to ensure it's dark enough for him to sleep? How can I complain when she will stand in the room fanning him for forty-five minutes to cool him down enough to nap? How can I complain about her loving him?
I am inordinately grateful to my mum for caring for our son for the past three years, and I'm incredibly sad that this special time has come to an end. Yes, school is a new and exciting time, but nothing will ever be the same as his first four years; his voyage of discovery from a newborn baby to a thriving, loving and confident boy, overseen by his devoted Nana.
Thank you mum for loving my child.