Children grow up so quickly, before you know it they are getting ready to leave home...
My eldest daughter was fortunate enough to receive offers of places from all five of her choices of University this year. Before she applied, we had a series of visits and open days to various Higher Education establishments so she could make an informed choice. Some she ruled out straight away, some took her a little longer to decide. I suppose the process started way back in Autumn 2008, when she first entered the Sixth Form and began studying for her A Levels. So you could say I've had plenty of time to get used to the idea. In fact, ever since the Saturday she was born in a sunny Brisbane labour suite, I've known that one day she would leave me. When her sister was born two years later, I doubled my anxiety because I knew that one day they would both leave me. You see, I guess that is how I have defined myself for almost nineteen years now - the mother of daughters...
So in March, I took my eldest along to interviews at Harper Adams, in Shropshire, and just down the road for Bristol University. I began to realise on that drive to Shropshire and whilst waiting for the Bristol interview to finish, that my little girls are not so little anymore! So many milestones along the journey of parenthood, but this is the one that frightens me most. I have always wanted my daughters to go after their dreams, to reach as high as they need or want but I had never really thought that meant saying 'Goodbye'.
My eldest has now decided to go to London to study. I had missed the initial visit for the Open Day in London because Rosie, my dog, was ill, so Dad and young Sis had gone along. But my eldest was beginning to feel uncomfortable about the fact I hadn't seen the place where she wanted to spend the next three years of her life. So in April, we went to London for the day. Just the two of us. It was the week of THE Wedding - you know the one I'm talking about! Wow, Green Park was a huge shanty town of TV News Network tents, hospitality tents and satellite dishes. There were even reporters reporting on how many reporters were camped outside Buck House reporting on the big day!
We walked everywhere so that my daughter could get her bearings. We headed north from Victoria and kept walking until we reached the place she hopes to go to in October. I had a good look around the academic buildings and the Hall of Residence and my daughter was happy to hear that I thought it seemed like a great place to study. I told her that I had always wanted to live in London when I was younger, so I envy the new life she will have there.
Ay, there's the rub...the new life, one where I am just peripheral rather than central. I'll admit it, I'm scared!
And how will young Sis adapt to a life where her sister just pops home when she hasn't got a good gig for Saturday night? Apart from the occassional school trip or sleepover the two have spent most of their free time together. But in less than two years, younger Sis will leave home too. She isn't sure what she wants to do or where she wants to go, but the process of looking around different Universities starts next week with a visit to Exeter - my old haunt. I wonder what she'll think of that.
Who knows what the next few years wiIl hold for my girls, but I know I am proud of them. And I think they both know I will always be in the background quietly waiting. Just in case they decide to come home again...
A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad.
~ John Andrew Holmes