Flying the family nest

This summer has been dominated by preparations for the imminent departure of my eldest child Leila, who will be leaving home in 7 days to head off to university.

She’s ready and on the cusp of an exciting new phase of her life.

I am not ready.

Not really.

Maybe mothers never truly are.

This week unbidden images of my daughter have been dive bombing my thoughts. A newborn infant fast asleep in my arms, a toddler breast-feeding her own doll whilst I nursed her new baby brother, a wide-eyed 4 year old ready for her first day at school and so the scenes tumble through my mind. It’s as if I am playing through film highlights of her childhood trying to fully savour the memories of her before she disappears into adulthood forever.

Relationships with our children are different to every other relationship we have.

With our partners we start from a place of the unknown and work to become closer, more intimate, together as one.

With our children it is the exact opposite.  Our children are knitted together and formed inside us but from the moment of birth we are separating from them. If all goes well our children learn new skills and develop independence so that one day we can release them to move into their own lives.

I feel bereft, there’s a dull ache in my chest which seems to have made itself at home and I have a feeling it’s here to stay, for a while at least.

I know it will lift once Leila’s settled and I’ve got used to the shift in the dynamics of our family life.

In three years time Edward, our autistic son, will probably be preparing to leave home too.

I think he will be ready to go. I think he’s going to be OK. I hope so.

There’s still lots more things I want him to know and understand before he goes.

I’d like him to become more aware of the consequences of giving totally honest replies to questions.

I’d like him to Improve his time keeping and make sure his self-imposed routines work for everyone.

We’ve got time.

We need to use it well.

Looking back I think my parents were probably sick of me being at home by the time I left for university. I know I felt very ready to leave home at the age of 18 and I didn’t give any thought as to how my own parents were feeling about my departure and we certainly did not talk about it.  As we drove towards my halls of residence we got caught in traffic on Camden High street. Camden Market was in full swing, with people milling about everywhere. The colours, noises and smells were alien to me; a girl from suburbia who had rarely ventured into any city, let alone London. I was incredibly excited by everything that I saw and couldn’t believe my luck at landing in such a busy, vibrant place – I think my parents were a lot less enamored by the surroundings. As soon as they had helped me get all my stuff into my room I more or less told them to go back home as I didn’t want their presence to hinder me from the task at hand, namely finding my new friends and living my new life. I was brutal. I can see that now as I find myself on the other side of this leaving experience.

Leila has, to her credit, realised that I’m struggling with this process. Nick will be away with work next weekend so I’ll be driving Leila to university by myself.

At least that was the plan until Leila announced, “Ivy should come too, you’ll need her for the journey home.”

I think she’s right.

I’m preparing myself for a brutal ejection from her halls of residence once we have unloaded all her stuff just in case she follows in my footsteps.

Whatever happens I’ll be glad to have my youngest daughter as company on the way back home.

We pour ourselves into raising our children, knowing we could have done so much more but hoping we’ve done enough.

It’s no wonder that when they leave us our hearts are wrenched.










After The Playground
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5 thoughts on “Flying the family nest

  1. I feel for you, I really do. Such a big moment and there isn’t really anything that can prepare you for how you may feel. If it makes you feel better, when I left home for my first thought, I only considered my excitement and new life. Years later my mum mentioned how I never gave her a thought when I left. She was right, I didn’t. I wish she had mentioned it at the time. As for you, give yourself time to adjust to how you feel and the change. It’s such a difficult month for changes – especially one like this. I wish your daughter well (love the loaded boot) and I wish you well with settling in. Reminisce as much as you like, it’s all part of the process. Thank you for sharing this with us at #tweensteensbeyond

    • Thanks comment Nicky. Thankfully Leila has already met some lovely people at uni and it sounds like it’s all got off to a very good start – knowing that your child is happy and enjoying their new phase of life definitely helps with the readjustment to not having them around at home. Strange times!

  2. Lynne this is such a pertinent post for me as you know, as we drove our eldest to university last weekend. He was happy for us to help and unpack and even walk around which I wasn’t expecting but there were lots of parents doing the same so it all felt quite normal. Then we left. We have heard from him twice this last week and he is having a ball. I knew he would be fine as it was definitely the time for him to move on. The difference as you say is adapting to the shift in the dynamic of the household left behind. It’s strange and different in equal measure. I have had many ask me how I feel and whilst there are moments I miss him, I remind myself that this is what the last 18 years has been all about, preparing for him to move on to the next stage of his life. I hope all went well for you. Thanks for linking. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Glad to hear that your son has got off to a good start. All has gone well for us and Leila is thankfully in a flat with some really great young people. She’s busy getting on with making friends and finding her feet and seems to be loving it. I am missing her as much as I thought I would but I’m also delighted that she’s growing up and following her own path now. Thanks for hosting #TweensTeensBeyond

  3. our eldest left home aged 12 and went into care, i had no idea that each and every child leaving home after that would tug on my heart strings just as hard but each in their own way. The 3 middle boys left home at 18, 2 in the army and 1 to an apprenticeship. The youngest left at 13 for boarding school, he’s been back over the summer between me and my mums, but will be going again the end of october, but it’s different this time as I’m going back to Dubai the week before he leaves so it all feels very different this time #tweenteensbeyond