A few days ago, I updated my Twitter account with the words: 'Last term of school runs. Might cry. With relief'.
It's my son William's final term at primary school, and from September, the school run will be a thing of the past as he makes his own way to a school. The new journey is just an eight minute walk from our home, as opposed to the current 25 minute (minimum) each way trip (and that's if we drive or take public transport).
But after I wrote my Twitter post, I thought about what the last seven years of drop off and pick ups have actually meant to us, and what – beyond taking and collecting from school – we have got out of them. And I concluded that as stressy and frenetic as they are on occasion, I am going to miss them enormously.
There have (often) been tears, rages, and return trips for forgotten items. We have slammed the front door, stomped down the garden path and angrily latched the gate as we've burst out of the house, a tangle of bags and coats.
Yet the minute we are out of the confines of our home and on our way, everything changes.
Over the years we have cycled, bussed, trained, driven and walked the route, and it has always been our exclusive little bubble of time together. For seven years, for at least 25 minutes twice a day, we have observed, talked, listened, laughed and sang with no interruptions from computers or TVs, mobile phones or other demands on our time. It has just been 'us'.
In those early years, he barely out of toddlerhood, it was the time we spent learning his times tables, parroting and reciting them to made up tunes. It was the time he would falteringly read through his story book or prepare for his weekly spelling tests.
As he moved up through the school and languages crept on to the curriculum, we would journey in trying to converse entirely in French, making up silly sentences to take in all the new words he had learnt. (Je voudrais une grande fenetre pour les petite bebes still makes me smile, two years later.)
Then there were those rushed mornings where everything would go wrong, and we would race out, with damp hair and un-tucked uniform, sniping and complaining, but clutching a picnic breakfast to eat in the car park before rushing in through the school gate, a few precious minutes of calm claimed before the start of both our working days.
And no matter what calamities had marred the trip in, there was always that beaming smile and kiss good bye.
We've spent summers cycling, firstly with my son on a tag-along, later on his own bike, me in front, instructing him on the rules of the road, and anecdotes from 'when I did my cycling proficiency test'.
We'd stop over our local common, eating blackberries from the bushes, watching new calves, just days old, and cycling furiously away from the horses who were convinced every passer-by's bag was full of apples.
Now, when walk across or cycle at the weekend, my son reminisces over those days – three years ago being a time span you can get nostalgic over when you are only 11.
Some days the school run would be on the bus – the height of excitement in reception and year one, but a complete social embarrassment in year six, although the desire to 'press the bell' is seemingly never outgrown.
The journey to and from school has really enriched our lives, and given us both a dedicated, if enforced, bit of time together - something that can often go astray in the hubbub of family life.
So it's with a very heavy heart that I am preparing to say farewell to those 50 precious minutes each day, even if I seem to be very much in the minority. At least half a dozen other mums have told me 'I can't wait to not have to do this any more,' this term, as they arrive red faced and out of puff at the school gate.
To them, secondary school means waving their kids off on their bikes, a school bus, or just arming them with a door key, no longer having to organise their own day around drop off and pick up time.
But it's not like that for me. The loss of the school run is going to leave a big hole in my life, and is yet another sign that childhood is so scant, and that my little boy is growing into an independent young man. I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet.
And as September edges closer, I am becoming less and less willing to consign the school run to the history books... after all, he is only 11! Surely one more year of silly songs, practising French phrases and generally enjoying some one-to-one time with my child each morning and afternoon won't hurt?
Will you, or did you, miss the school run bookends to the day?
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