Ah heaven, it's back to school and some me-time for mum... but we'll miss them
It'll have been when you were buying the uniform you'll have seen it first: how much they've grown since last year. Or last month.
"He's in big-size shoes now, can you believe it?" you'll have told someone as your last year's youngster squeezes his way into big-boy leather uppers.
You'll have marvelled at how tall/big/old they look in the perfect new uniform with the wry knowledge that it's the last time you'll see it this clean.
The stress of finding the right sizes, having them fitted with whingeing children hanging out of you, buying up multi-packs of socks, pants, copybooks and pens -- enough to supply an army it seems -- and emptying your purse with alarming regularity as the shop assistant packs the bags of her hundredth mum of the day.
You'll have wheedled, begged, threatened and bribed -- and wished all the shopping could have been done without them.
You're exhausted, bewildered and much, much poorer.
So, you'll be mightily relieved when that front door finally closes next week and you've waved them off to school for another arduous year.
But there's always that hint of nostalgia, a bit of sentimental nonsense buried in there too.
Amid the glee of seeing them off, maybe meeting a gal pal for a peaceful coffee without having to buy cokes, crisps and cakes to go with it, you'll be able to sit and enjoy half an hour without endless accompaniments to the toilet, outrageous claims of boredom and fighting, smacking and squabbling. For once.
But no sooner than they're out the door, you'll be worrying that they're okay.
Did they find a seat? Has the teacher noticed they're a little anxious?
Did they find out where to hang up their coat? What if they're crying? And here you are, heartlessly having a half hour to yourself and enjoying it!
Parenting -- dontcha just love it? The worries are part and parcel of the joy. You don't get to do one without the other, and back to school time multiplies them.
You're worried that he won't settle this year; the class sizes will be bigger or he'll get picked on. You're concerned at the news of school budget cutbacks, retiring teachers not being replaced and resources left short.
You're wondering how you'll afford the bills to come and if the class has enough SNAs or computers or equipment.
He worried about whether his friends will like his new school bag and what's in his lunchbox.
Isn't it always the same? But there's a comfort about a sense of routine returning.
The longer nights, proper dinners and the round of homework. The getting up earlier, warmer clothes and setting the fire in the evenings.
Yes, there'll be the stress of double-jobbing -- dashing home from the office only to have to start into dinner, monitor spellings, make sure they get to football practice and early to bed -- so that it'll seem like you're caught up in a whirlwind of activity all of the time.
There'll be calendars, diaries, memos to write; post-it pads decorating the fridge.
Don't forget to pick up from dance class. Remember the €40 for art.
Send consent form into teacher for swimming. Phew! It's only the first week of September and already you're looking forward to the mid-term break.
Well, before long it'll be pumpkins, dress up and Santa Claus.
Let's enjoy the temporary respite while we have it. Happy September.