The Art of Letting Go

I remember my lovely Mum crying when she dropped me off at university for the first time. At the time, I wondered why. Even from the depths of my teenage self-absorption, I was aware I hadn’t been the easiest of daughters and that I’d elevated stroppiness and moodiness into an art form. Surely, she’d be thrilled to see the back of me! And yet, here was my usually calm and controlled mother sobbing like a baby as she said goodbye.
Well, last weekend, it was my turn, and now I know exactly how my mum was feeling. Taking my gorgeous son – who has had his teenage moments too – to university, was such a potent cocktail of conflicting emotions that, nearly a week later, I’m still reeling.
I know this is not about me. This is my son’s time, his story, his adventure. And I know, it’s far from a unique story – up and down the country, nearly half a million mums and dads and carers are saying their goodbyes in exactly the same way. But, in a way, it is about the parents too. We try to bring them up to help them fly when the time is right, but the act of letting go is so HARD.
It’s a bittersweet pride and excitement and a kind of slipping-through-my-fingers grief. Slight bafflement that the boy I thought I knew is now an adult, popping off to enrol, stopping in to greet people from his hall he’d already met though social media. When did he become so independent, so confident … a man? And, of course, there is a whole dollop of nostalgia too – remembering the fear, the excitement, the occasional loneliness and the time I thought it would be a good idea to heat up a tin of baked beans by putting the whole unopened thing into a pan of boiling water …
The whole social media is a double-edged sword – or is that just me. It’s lovely to have short, frequent interactions and better, surely, than the once weekly phone call from the public phone box in the drafty college corridor. But it also means you’re aware of their habits in a way I’m sure isn’t good for either of us. So, he’s not been on WhatsApp since 3.33am last night. Is he sleeping off a brilliant night out or huddled under the covers after a dark night of the soul? Should I call? Send someone to check on him? Pop round? I know, I know. Helicopter parent or what?! (Luckily my husband is on hand to talk some sense into me!)
So, it’s been an interesting week. Full of highs and lows. Writing on the back burner.
Normal service will resume shortly.
Have a blast, my lovely boy.
We’re so proud of you.

6 thoughts on “The Art of Letting Go

  1. Oh, Kirsten! I can feel your pain! You’ve expressed yourself, as always, so beautifully, I’m caught up in the emotion of it all. There are tears in my eyes for your sadness, but there’s also a smile on my lips at your over active imagination re the WhatsApp silence from 3.33am! I’m so with you there; that’s exactly the way my mind goes all the time!

    I remember the gut-wrenching emotion of leaving my daughter at university and then, four years later, my son. I can’t even talk to my husband about those moments now, all these years later, without choking up.

    I hope you’ll be so comforted by how well he’s settling in that you’ll soon be able to focus on your writing again. ❤


  2. I remember my relationship with my parents changing for the better after I had left for college – I appreciated them more and they gradually turned into friends more than guardians …


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