I take my daughter to yoga. She is eighteen and momentarily bored on her year-out; FOMO’ing her way through her Instagram feed (surely 1500 accounts is 1000 too many?) waiting for life to really get started. She hasn’t worked out that when she’s thirty and neck deep in a job and/or a family, and/or both, she will look back on this year as a precious drop of unsullied and carefree youth. She accompanies me, somewhat reluctantly, to an early morning class for which I have to drag her from her bed.
We do yoga with an array of ages; she lowers the average considerably. A man called Geoff tells us how much he enjoyed his Christmas break. We lapse into silence as the class starts, her mat next to mine, we lay flat, hands splayed, palms up. I feel her next to me. Such a curious thing to have had a baby, who is then a child, who is then a woman. I find myself reasserting her age when I speak of her, as at eighteen, there is a presumption that she is adult. But to me she is still young. Does that ever end for a mother? Things change and life reforms to a new normal, my children grow up and we swear in front of each other, and stare unflinchingly at inappropriate TV because we are used to being grown ups together now. The perfect family unit has had its shine taken off, there’s a tarnish, but we are owning it and it’s OK.
She and I spend time (days) talking about her future, rolling possibilities along the floor like a game of ball between us. Her going away to university and living away from home rears up, and we both take a breath and hide our trepidation because we know that after day one, she’ll be fine. More than fine. She will rule the world.
In yoga, she slays, because she is young. Geoff pretends not to notice as he utilises blocks to help him reach the floor from a back bend. I feel a flush of pride because a daughter is a gift, and she is so beautiful that it makes my heart ache. I think to share this sentiment with her father, as he loves her as much as me, we are in this together. She and I get back in the car after, and play Billie Eilish.
The parental competitiveness that applied for previous academic milestones, exams and school entrance, is alive and well for the pre-university year-out. I can report that I get asked daily what she is doing, and register how it fares as a response on a sliding scale of year-out activities. Back-packing, volunteering, swimming with sting rays, trekking rural China, eco-warrior-ing in South America. Watching Netflix is not high on the scale. But we don’t mind. Time will come and the world will open itself up for her when she is ready. Meanwhile we bend and stretch and endure the wintery mud, longing for days when it is summer again.