I've been picturing the moment for a few years now.
At the end of each year when I see the pictures of other year levels graduating, I imagine it being our turn.
It's been a reminder to myself that we, too, can get there. It's been something to aim for.
I never thought that seeing my child graduate from primary school would be such a big deal.
But then her primary school years happened.
Four years of her schooling so far have been tainted by intense bullying. I have advocated for her, time and time again, to get action to keep her safe and to be able to keep her at the same school – something that was important to my daughter.
Our family has invested a lot of time, energy, tears and heartache in getting her through those years.
A significant amount of the last couple of years have been spent grieving, too. With multiple family deaths – plus the preludes of cancer suffering – there have been many times it's been hard for each member our little family unit to get through the days.
We've worked with teachers to help our daughter deal with that grief, and we've got her through it.
And this year, during her final year of primary school, amid lockdowns and two long rounds of home learning, my daughter suddenly developed a hearing loss. She's spent much of this year having tests, in medical appointments, trialling different aids, resolving problems with said aids, and adjusting to life without full hearing.
And through it all, I've pictured that graduation. That would be the moment I'd know we'd done it: we'd got her through in one piece. It would be a victory: we'd cheer, we'd congratulate ourselves, and we'd be able to move on from the difficulties we've been through.
Just like the celebration of a baby's first birthday is both about the child and the parents – marking the fact that we've kept a child alive for a full year – a school graduation is for the whole family, too.
To miss it is one of the big stings of this year.
What the schools are allowed to do where we live is to have a graduation with children and teachers only. Even at a small country school, there are to be no parents or families in attendance.
This is a rebranding of what we have previously known as a class party.
A big part of me is happy for my daughter that she gets some form of celebration – albeit, nothing more than she's received at the end of every other school year.
But there's a chunk of me that's incredibly sad.
That milestone meant something to us. It was what we'd been working towards for years.
To be clear: it's not the school's fault. And the government rules … well, managing the pandemic is the greater priority. I get that.
But sometimes things are so different to how we imagined, it's hard for our minds and our emotions to catch up.