Letting go is hard

As a parent it is hard when your child moves to the next stage of their life.

Published on 
4 min, 647 words

Categories: life

Last weekend our daughter started on the next part of her life journey. We dropped her off at Exeter University as she is about to embark on a four year adventure studying psychology.

When you have children, everyone tells you that time flies and before you know it they will be grown up. And you nod and agree and then think you still have lots of time with them. Well, eighteen years later you realise that actually their advice was spot on and you hope that you have made the most of that time.

Over the past year in particular we have tried preparing for this moment. We have made sure that we have spent time together, at home and on holiday. We have tried to teach her some of the skills she will need including cooking and cleaning. However we could see a subtle shift in her as her friends became a more and more fundamental part of her life and in particular being out more including more socialising in the evenings. This both reassured us that she was ready for the next step but also drove home how little time we would have with her before she moved out.

No matter how prepared you think you are, you are not prepared.

Our family is pretty close. We have very few issues (well, that is what I think) and we are lucky that the kids get on well - we also have a 15 year old son. We were worried that he would be hit hardest as his sister is not only a sister but also probably his best friend. He loves spending time with her and getting her attention, even if it is just to annoy her. He just enjoys being a part of her life.

When we dropped her off we travelled down on the Saturday and helped her move in and get organised. We then deliberately left her to it and stayed about 15 miles away. On the Sunday we met up again to do a food shop, get any last minute missing things and then to have a meal together before we travelled back home. This staggered drop off helped ease the transition a little.

Leaving her there was very tough - she had been a daily part of our lives at home for eighteen years and now she would no longer be there. Admittedly it is much better now than when I was at university as we have Facetime and WhatsApp and all these other ways to keep in touch however it is not the same as having her around.

We all struggled with leaving her - but especially our son. Unprompted by us he wrote her the most amazing letter expressing his feelings and left it for her to read after we had left. There were lots of tears when she read it but it was great that he told her exactly how he felt.

One of my colleagues at work said this:

They talk about a child moving out like a bereavement, a sense of loss and with that associated grief … so no surprises that you are all feeling this way.

I think it summed up our feelings very well. We still have moments where tears flow and there is sadness. We have a massive gap at home but we are also happy that she has got the opportunity she has. She worked so hard to get her A Level results and she deserves this chance. We are very proud of her. We are happy that she has settled in well, already made some friends and has the chance to study a subject that she has grown to love.

She is ready for this next step and hopefully so are we. We will wait and see where this takes her and we can't wait - even if we see it from afar.