The A level results are in ! Waves of happiness and tears of joy are rippling through the household, our hearts bursting with pride that your son through hard work and determination can follow his dreams into adulthood

Then, the harsh reality that your child is moving out, exiting and departing your world. Having nurtured, adored and cared for, for18 years, your services are now, no longer, required. On the lead up to the departure date I find myself memorising his features, capturing the way he smiles and savouring those hugs that I know will be in short supply over the following months.

This is ridiculous !!

I have become sad and I hate myself for it. A process of rationalisation is taking place. A war of words in my mind. ‘He needs to do this’, ‘do you really want him to stay at home forever?’ ‘I am so lucky to have a healthy, happy son that is able to go to university’.

Selfishly, I grieve for the moments that have passed by. The digital photo frame in the kitchen that every 5 seconds shows an image of my little boy waving from a fair ground tea cup, winking at me whilst dressed as a shepherd in the school nativity and then through to adulthood. The tears prick my eyes.

I have made lists that read like a map of a department store; kitchen, toiletries, stationery etc. Orderly piles on the bedroom floor signify that, yes tomorrow, he’ll be leaving. I hide away and cry. I need to sort myself out and plan to hold it together.

He’s not leaving the country !

The timer has timed out, today is the day and he’s leaving. He’ll be back before we know it, leaving the lights on, leaving a trail of crisps around the house and the ‘floordrobe’ will be back in commission. The day unfolds. Subconsciously, I have dressed in black. We chat for a while in the car. I reinforce how exciting his life is about to become and all the new experiences that will become so important to him.

Special delivery

On arrival we are met by a flock of enthusiastic, warm and friendly students who scoop him up and guide him to collect his key. I watch him go, nervous but easy in manner, I watch him smile and engage with those around him. I am immediately reassured, he’ll be happy and he’ll be fine.

How can I eke-out the good byes ?

I have negotiated before we arrive that I can make his bed and that is it ! I’ve only bought a double duvet cover for a single duvet bed. My final act of being a full-time mother and I have failed !! I am devestated ! I offer to make his towels into swans and monkeys but my offer is declined. I am pratically and unceremoniously ‘drop-kicked’ out of his room.

We walk around the campus, we pass huddles of excited students, their joy and passion for their futures is palpable. The phone rings, we have been called back to see the how his room looks. I am over-joyed. I am like a ‘ferret up a drain pipe’ my husband known for his level of fitness, struggles to keep up. On arrival the wardrobe doors and drawers are flung open to reveal beautifully hung clothes and general organisation. We are impressed ! I make all the right noises, enthuse and my heart bursts with love. I’m even allowed to take a photo with a solemn oath that I unable to share to a ‘middle-aged’ social network forum.

That’s it, our job here is done !

That’s it, time’s up and we have to go. We hug our son with all of our bones. My heart is breaking and and that overwhelming emotional wave that has been stabbing me all day washes over me like a crashing wave. My son is happy and excited and he is stepping out onto life’s amazing journey. I am so proud of his achievements and ultimately the person he has become. I know he will make friends and embrace university life. What more could a mother and father wish for. In the meantime a period of adjustment ensues.

I try to cry silently in the car. My husband is hurting too. We smile and console each other with reassuring glances. He’ll be back, maybe fleetingly but life is for growing as a person, taking on experiences and challenges and university will help my son achieve and learn. Our beautiful son will flourish and thrive and we hope and wish that he will be happy in all that he does.

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