How can 18 years not feel long enough? That’s crazy! But I’m haunted by a nagging doubt that I might have missed something that I should have done. Have I prepared her well enough? Have I shown her the way? The right way? Is she equipped to deal with the adult world? Can she cope being away from home?
In my less emotional moments I know that the answer to all these questions is “yes”. I know she’s ready to move on, to spread those wings that we encouraged her to have.
I couldn’t be more proud of her, nor any happier about where the 18 year path has led her. Having smashed her GCSE’s as I was battling cancer, and now having done the same with her A levels, she can claim that her lowest grade across all these exams was an A. Following a re-mark of one of her A level papers her A*AA results would have been good enough for Oxford or Cambridge. She never wanted that for herself and we are all really happy with her University of Birmingham choice – one of the top universities in the country and only half an hour from home. She’ll live in halls and have the complete Uni experience – but if she needs us we can be there. This is perfect.
So why do I feel so bereft? So sad? I’ve just left her in her new flat with 5 other seemingly lovely students, and I swear I’ve left part of my heart there. Walking away, leaving her alone, was unspeakably tough.
I’ve got to get my head around this. I can hear my own voice trying to convince everyone else that this isn’t a big deal – when in fact, letting go is unbelievably massive and momentous for me. But I’m good at putting a positive spin on things. So…This is the start of something new for us all, not the end. She’s ready for this and it will be good for her. She’s not leaving home and is just studying away for part of the year. She’s not far away and we can meet for coffee, lunch, dog walks as often as she likes.
But in my heart I know that things will never quite be the same.
At last I understand how my mom felt when I went to Uni. She has always referred to those first months after I left as a depression that no one could quite understand. After all, I was barely home even before I went to Uni and if I was home I was shut away in my bedroom, appearing only for food. But the hole I left engulfed my mom.
I get it now. I feel it too. It’s taken over 30 years for me to fully appreciate how hard it was for her back then. But I was 18 and eager for adulthood and just didn’t understand. Now, I do.
My mom gave me this framed poem when I left for Uni 30 years ago and over the years it has become one of the most precious things I own. I’ve kept it safe, taken it out from the drawer and reread it often, particularly when feeling lonely, sad or scared. It has always reminded me of my mom and as I’ve watched my own daughter grow into a young woman, the words have become even more poignant. It’s hard to explain the comfort I’ve taken from this small gift over the years. So today I passed it on to my first born – because it sums up how I’m feeling absolutely perfectly.
So now we have to crack on with the next chapter. I know she’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. Let’s do this ❤