You know how it is, your child is fast approaching 18 and with it, the realisation that before long, your child will be flying the nest for pastures new, hopefully at university.
In all honesty, I’m not dealing with this eventuality all that well. I feel as though my world is about to collapse and my sense of purpose questionable. My friends laugh and tell me ‘you will have time for yourself’ or ‘you have to let her go, its only normal’ But its not normal.
I along with most mothers and some dads I guess, have for the past 17 years prepared all my daughter’s meals, her packed lunches for school, but not any old lunches, home-made focaccia sandwiches, salads and a plethora of other healthy options all made from scratch. But I know before long that will come to an end, which in some instances might be a good thing, as trying to devise a suitable lunch can be testing at the best of times. But I know it will be a wrench as I will lose something very precious.
Time for myself they say. What will I do with all this new found time? At my age, who has given up most of my time to ensure my daughter has everything she needs in what is fair to say has not been the easiest of circumstances regarding home life, suddenly to be confronted with no one to look after.
Compounding matters, it is not only my daughter but the daughters of my friends, who are also about to fly the coop.but whom I have looked after and watched grow into young women. They too will leave me for university and who knows how often I will see them.
It is an end of era and I cannot help but look back with alarming regularity at all those moments which have left an indelible mark over the years. The time when my friend’s daughter – who must have been seven or eight years of age at the time – upon returning from holiday saw me walking down the street after dropping off my daughter at school, ran across the road shouting my name and leapt into my arms. You cannot put a price on someone else’s child wanting to be hugged. The fact that they felt so comfortable, so at ease is priceless, I returned home full of pride and joy on that occasion. Or the countless times children – some from other schools in the area – would wave and say hello as I made my way home on my bicycle which had a trailer fitted on the back where my daughter would sit.
The time I took my daughter and her friend to the country and watched in horror as the friend slid down a gravelly slope towards a river shouting ‘ help me’ but with me powerless to stop her….mercifully, a tree stopped her from reaching the river’s edge. We laughed afterwards but I thought, ‘goodness I nearly killed her’! It still sends a shiver down my spine.
The countless games the girls begged me to play, initially with toys such as my little pony – I hated those ponies – to physical games and as they got older, video games and to be fair, they still do even though they are 17 years of age….I must be doing something right.
These are the memories which I seem to be going back to more and more frequently as the day of my daughter’s ‘release’ looms ever nearer. As a father who has dedicated the past 18 years to raising a stunning child into a young woman, I am finding it difficult to let go, but I know it has to happen. I’m dreading it.