Do you know someone going to university? Considering that in 2015, according to a UCAS report, some 235,000 18 year olds accepted into a full-time place at university, the most ever recorded; I'm sure you probably do.
I don’t have teenagers (yet) but I felt compelled to write about what it might feel like to send your child off to university. I know I don’t have to think about this for a few years but recent circumstances have made been reflect on this subject.
I never went to university, nor did I go to college. Not necessarily through choice, but that’s a different story. Therefore, when talking to a close friend’s daughter about her university place, I wished I could have offered more advice, more guidance – but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what she should expect, the good and the bad. All I knew was that she was so excited about going to the university and her mother was full of emotion that her baby daughter was flying the nest. At first I said “oh don’t be so silly, this is such a wonderful opportunity”, but then I had to imagine what was behind all the emotion. How would I have felt if it was my own daughter? As a parent, you have invested nearly two decades of your time, money and love in this young person. It is natural to wonder if they'll be OK, if they'll make the right choices in the world. If they will stay safe. We bring these little people into the world like Bambi and just as the movie tells the story, the foal skates across the ice and as he does so, he falls. He rises again and he falls again. And this is exactly what you have been doing for the last eighteen years of their life; being there for them, no matter what. Only now, they are (partly) on their own and you won’t be there to pick them up when they fall – other than being just a phone call away.
Now, as they fly off to the next part of their journey, fully equipped with as many random and practical items as you can think of, including a colander and 3 pack of wooden spoons and a doorstop! You wonder how this time has crept up on you so quickly. When parents love to tell you ‘Oooohh, they grow up so fast. Just you just wait and see. It goes by in a flash”. I often rolled my eyes when people said this to me, but now I’m thinking that; perhaps this is true.
For the last few months I’ve continued to tell myself that this will be an amazing experience and opportunity for my friend’s daughter, and I hope she might read this blog post too (she knows who she is). Every time I see her, she smiles with utter delight. In her mind, she’s already gone to university and she’s probably being the most mature about the whole situation than any of us.
I remind my friend that it's natural to feel sad when your child leaves home. It is feeling of loss. A loss of affection, loss of extra laughter in the house and an empty bedroom. A sacred part of the family is suddenly no longer there.
Just as I tell my friend she’s being overly sensitive about the ‘flying the nest’ situation and as I try to be the strong woman I am, she reminds me that her daughter leaves on Sunday. I warmly embraced her daughter and held her tight. I admit, I nearly lost it; chocking back shedloads of tears. Now I’ve got to wait until mid-December until I see her face again.
And so the time has come. As parents we have taught them as much as we can for the moment. Now they must learn more by themselves, so we must let them go.
So fly little bird, fly. Good luck and we’ll see you again soon...