This week marks the fruition of a journey many parents embarked upon years ago. About fourteen years ago to be precise. It is the week that British kids start university. Who would have thought, when my daughter enrolled in reception (pigtails, mary-jane shoes, bookbag in hand) aged four, that I’d be here, as she is eighteen, facing ‘The Future’? For me, there is a respite before the eventuality of the ubiquitous empty nest; my daughter is taking a ‘gap yah’ which is a term described in the urban dictionary here, and for which I am supremely grateful. She is the best company, and I am not ready to watch ‘The Kardashians’ alone. But for many of my friends in the extravaganza that is parenthood, ‘X’ marks the spot. This is it. Off they go.
So much shit has gone down of late (see previous post) that we now look to ‘The Future’ with interest. The Future is an unknown. The Future is what we have to hold on to. For those of us whose future is unknown, I recommend applying for a job that would be wildly life-changing. I applied for this job in the Maldives (because that is how I roll).
But for the friends whose kids are going to Uni, this heralds the end of having a child living at home. This is the point where your credit card statement includes the Über rides at 4am from nightclubs in Freshers Week. There are the halls of residence where sinks are shared, and meals are rudimentary. There are first day nerves. There is the route down the motorway, the car laden with IKEA sundries, and an edgy teen at your side. There is the countdown to Christmas holidays, when you welcome them home, smother them with love, let them know they are the best thing ever.
For my friends whose children leave this week, I would say: stay strong. Life throws curve balls. In the words of Nora Ephron; who is social commentator of the millennia, “When your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.”
Think laterally. Glastonbury tickets go on sale in less than a month. There is always the island of Holbox in the Gulf of Mexico which could be explored. Tattoos and personal style changes. Pursuits. Changes. Facing up. There is always post-university. Standing at the door to your daughter’s future, and knowing that you did your absolute best. A million milestones, small and large. Life goes on.