In four days time, I will launch my precious first-born into the wider world to fend for herself as she starts University in a city, far, far away from home.
Of course, this doesn’t come as a shock. In many ways, her entire almost nineteen years of life so far have been leading, with a sense of dogged inevitability, to this very moment. How many times over her lifetime have I joked about getting her ( and her siblings ) off my hands? Oh the plans I have made for when I finally ‘get my life back’….
That’s not really how it is though. A parent never gets their life back and which parent would want a life without children anyway? What we really mean is that we will have more time to do what pleases us on a day to day basis. Our lives will always be inextricably linked with those of our children on some level or other no matter what our relationship with them.
Anyway, less of this tuppenny philosophy and onto the far more important task of navel gazing! What does it actually feel like to have a child move away from home? Well, I can’t speak for anyone else of course but I don’t think I’ll be treading any new ground if I say it’s pretty odd. A year ago, six months ago even, I couldn’t even contemplate the idea without a lump forming in my throat and my eyes brimming with emotional tears. The children would look at me questioningly. ‘Are you crying, Mummy? Again!!’
But slowly my mindset has changed. Just recently, my 18 year old child has blossomed into an 18 year old young adult. The process reminds me a bit of being in year six. Suddenly those at the top of the school look, like cuckoos in the primary nest. Their legs are too long, their jumpers too short. They clearly belong somewhere else.
And so is it now, here. My eldest has outgrown us. Not in a never coming back way. It’s just that our life here at home can no longer provide her with what she seeks. She needs to venture out and discover it for herself.
And how does this feel to me, her mother? Well…. as long as I don’t think about her saying goodbye to her siblings or leaving her on her own in her new student flat (or try to write a blog about it) then I’m OK. This is just what happens next, how it must be. Life should move forward all the time. It’s not always what we want or what we think we can deal with but that’s just how it is.
So it’s not with a heavy heart that I help her pack her room up into cardboard boxes ( and ridicule some of her more impractical suggestions as to what should make the trip.) She is setting out on the most exciting journey of her life so far and my job now is not to make her look back at what she’s leaving behind but to help her look forward to make the most of what’s to come. But I do have a packet of tissues in my pocket…..