Seventeen years ago, with two weeks to go before my daughter was due, I was setting up the baby furniture and filling the drawers with baby clothing. I remarked to my husband that one day, some years away still, I would be packing for her departure to university.
Let me warn you. I am a soppy Mum. I cried when she started nursery. I cried when she started school. I cried on the day she left the pre-prep department to move to the prep department. I have had many other cries in between too. How is it that children grow so quickly? A cliched question but one that must baffle parents all over the world.
The time which I have dreaded is looming large. My daughter is in her A-level year and will be attending university in September 2017. Yes, it may be a year away but out of all the rites of passage that she has gone through this is THE one that I am dreading. A home without her presence will be an empty nest. She fills it with noise, laughter and strife. Even the cat loses its' will to live when she goes away for sleepovers. Heaven knows how it will cope when she goes away.
As a mother I am constantly being told that I ought to be proud of her spreading her wings and that flying the nest is what children do in order to gain independence. Stuff that! My answer is that I don't clip her wings at home and independence is more an inner state of being rather than a physical condition which requires one to lug one's bags all the way to the train station, wave goodbye to everything that one holds dear and, finally, to arrive in a strange place which one must immediately call 'home'.
In the last few weeks we have started doing 'open days' at universities. Much like choosing the first school for your child this experience is akin to choosing the last school for your kid. Sitting through presentations and question and answer sessions I wonder whether this will be the last time that I actually help my daughter make a decision. Once awash with her new independence will she seek my views?
If I sound to you like some sort of clingy mum who can't let go then you are reading me correctly. Don't tell me to find new things to do with my life either because, as things stand, I can't find the time as it is to do what I want to do. Nope. Nothing is going to compensate for the next new phase in life.
PS. Photos of my daughter as a baby, aged 3 and in Year 4 (right hand photo)