The radio playing 'school bag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning'

Her alarm clock rang before 6am. She walked into our bedroom and calmly whispered "mum, are you awake?" It felt like my eyes had been blasted with sand. Even so, the tone of her voice didn't go unnoticed ...this was the new voice of a Year 7'r.

I sat quietly in her bedroom watching her, with my cup of tea in one hand, camera in the other, a range of emotions bubbling quietly away inside of me. Thinking of how proud I was to be her mum and how honoured that she was allowing me the privilege of photographing this part of her journey. I also had a strong feeling of reassurance right there, knowing she'll be fine. More than fine.

My not-so-little girl started secondary school this week. I could write reams here about the first time we met, gazing into those just-born eyes and imagining this day, not so far away. I can't help think about all the kindly souls with their well-meaning advice over the years.

"Raising babies to children to adults is like a time machine whizzing you through the events, the years, the worlds. Then before you know it BAM, you'll be seeing her off to high school, university, a new life." 

For some time now, she's put her hand up to her face whenever I pick up my camera. She's pleaded with me, I've pleaded with her. Using only my eyes lately to freeze time while she's lost in a game or reading a book, when the artist in me is itching to make that image so much more. Casting my mind back to the last time I was allowed to hold up the camera briefly, just before the last bedtime book had ended.

So we made an agreement, she delivered on a promise, that I could photograph her from bed to door, as she leaves for the first time to her new school.

It's a huge change. These 11 year olds of ours are now off embracing the next adventure in their life. But from where I sat, on my own 11-year-old's bed, watching her tying her tie and combing out her bedhead, she was always more ready for this day than her mother was. I'd be wise take my lead from her...