Monthly Musing – May 2024 – School’s out … forever!

Not so small daughter is on study leave for her A Level exams which means that she’s left sixth form college and our time with children at school is over.  Ooh, it’s another milestone!  Not so small daughter is delighted not to have to do any more lessons in subjects that have lost their appeal (funny how exams do that to you) and I feel … well, how do I feel?

I thought I might feel sadder than I do, that this phase is completely over now – when big daughter was this age, not so small daughter was still at primary school so we still had high school and sixth form college to come – but actually, now that we’re here, I’m surprised to find that I’m not as upset about it all as I thought I might be.  We haven’t reached this point overnight, after all, so every day that has passed has brought us closer to this point until finally, last Friday, that was it.  Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?  The days turn whether you want them to or not.  And that means that it won’t be long before not so small daughter heads off first to Nepal and then to university.

How we are going to feel when we drop her off at university in September has been on my mind a lot lately.  I’ve been trying to focus on the positive that will come from not being a taxi service, not falling over shoes that are abandoned wherever they’re taken off, and not having to collect plates and glasses from upstairs because we’ve run out yet again – and not the fact that our sparky, funny girl is over an hour away in another city in another county.  She’s assured us that she will be home on a regular basis, and we have plans to visit her, but it’s an odd thought that the last bird is about to leave the nest and when she does come home, it will be for fleeting visits fitted into her new life, just as it is for big daughter now as well.

I saw a post on Instagram a while ago which read “I am not an empty nester, I am a bird launcher!” and I think that needs to apply to my husband and me as well.  We have the choice to feel left behind or to see where this phase of our lives takes us and launch ourselves into it.  It’s both an exhilarating and scary thought, having spent the last twenty-odd years being a taxi service, falling over shoes, collecting plates and the thousand other jobs that parents do, but there’s time to get used to the idea.  School’s only just finished, there’s the whole summer before university starts and in the meantime, we’re falling over boxes of things being collected to take to Nepal and uni – nothing’s actually changed that much at all!


A cardboard box containing ceramic dishes, tea towels and insect repellent



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12 Responses

  1. Lindsay says:

    It is a strange feeling, I kept laying the table for three after second one went to university 6 hours away. He spent time on an Erasmus placement in Europe which was where he met his future wife so life changes again! This was 25 years ago now, only a very basic mobile phone so contact was sporadic to say the least! I definitely worried for nothing 🙄
    Good luck to your daughter, how wonderful to visit Nepal.

    • winwickmum says:

      It’s good to know that you’ve been through it and everything was OK! At least this university isn’t 6 hours away, but I guess once they’ve gone it might as well be … I’m trying to look at it as somewhere new to go for my holidays! 🙂 xx

  2. Geeha says:

    love the bird launcher quote, it’s just how I felt but it took a while, older son was 25 and younger son was 22 and had returned to the nest twice. I felt fulfilled and my husband and I enjoyed the freedom, I can’t know but I think I would have felt the same about daughters. 20 years later they’re busy single men with homes of their own, sometimes I can’t believe I’m old enough to have birthed them

    • winwickmum says:

      I’m glad to know that you felt OK when your sons finally left – and I’m right there with you with not being old enough to have children this age! 🙂 xx

  3. Nicky Slade says:

    I totally understand your mixed feelings! Our youngest is just coming to the end of his 2nd year at uni and turns 20 on Monday, so we’re coming to another milestone for us – our last day as parents of a teenager, having parented at least one teenager for the past 18 years (our oldest is nearly 31)!! Be kind to yourself and allow time to settle into a new routine. Big kids don’t need you less, they just need you differently!

    • winwickmum says:

      Oh yes, I hadn’t thought about the end of teenage years … but we’ve got a couple of years for that 🙂 Thank you for your lovely words xx

  4. Rhian says:

    If she’s scooting off for big adventures you must have done your parenting well! I hope she has a lovely time in Nepal and enjoys university. Being only an hour away means you can visit easily, as can she. My oldest couldn’t have gone further away and still been in UK – 11hrs drive, but one adjusts and it’s the start of a more adult relationship with your child.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ah, thank you! Wow, 11 hours is a LONG drive! I think it took us about six or seven on our visit to the uni at Bournemouth but that’s the benefit of living (sort of) in the middle of the country, I guess! 🙂 xx

  5. Lisa Holmes says:

    It took me a while to stop buying too much food for just me and the husband! I remember a quote along the lines of “The most precious gifts you can give your children are roots and wings”. Now we have the house to ourselves…..and the Granddaughters!

    • winwickmum says:

      Yes – roots and wings, I’m saying that to myself a lot! I hadn’t thought about the food and you’re right, I found myself still putting things in the trolley for big daughter after she’d left and I’m sure I’ll do the same with not so small daughter as well! 🙂 xx

  6. Elaine Hodson says:

    I once suddenly realized that we parent our children as adults for much longer than we parent them as children, but we actually get very little advice or preparation for this far longer phase.

    • winwickmum says:

      Ooh yes, you’re absolutely right! I remember my Dad saying that your children never really leave home (he may well have been muttering about stuff I’d left in the garage at the time 🙂 ) but that makes sense. I could have done with a personalised manual for the earlier years sometimes, too! 🙂 xx

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