She's leaving home

I wrote the following piece six years ago when my daughter relocated to Adelaide from Port Lincoln for University. This week, a number of friends have been having going through the same thing. My thoughts are with you dear ones!

Published Port Lincoln Times February 2012

It’s 11.20 am on Saturday morning and my baby has walked out the gate to make the long drive to Adelaide towards her new life at University.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. There’s really not that much time after getting the much awaited uni offer, to getting yourself organised to start life in a city 650 km away. Even though we’ve been optimistic and planning this move for some time, things like the endless Centrelink forms, navigating the city rental market, enrolling and choosing subjects all have to happen in a pretty short time-frame.

The morning of departure has been particularly stressful. Our animals have had their suspicions for some days, and are now very sure that something is indeed up. The Border Collie with Alzheimer’s has decided the best way to deal with all this is to stick close. Very close. The morning air is littered with expletives (daughter) and yelps (dog) as she trips over him again and again or he smacks into the back of her legs whenever she stops abruptly, remembering something else she needs to pack. The other dog and one of the cats have a taken up residence in my daughter’s car and squish themselves in amongst the clothes and computer and boxes of kitchen gear. They stay very quiet and still and hope they won’t be noticed. The cat is particularly good at this and very nearly came to a Leonard Cohen concert last year.

A mother-daughter relationship is a special thing. So too is an only child relationship. And as our little family has just been the two of us (and the motley pet crew) for over 12 years, we are particularly tight. We’re ready for this, but there’s no denying it’s a wrench for both of us.

Just call if you’ve forgotten anything, I say as I give my girl a final hug. I shed a couple of tears (some because of the mess she has left in her leaving home wake) and look at my favourite picture of us, a candid shot taken at sunset over a valley when she was about four. Where did the time go?

I get stuck into the clean-up. I put the lids back on the peanut paste, the milk, the butter and the juice and wonder how on earth a house-hold of four teenagers who all forget to put the lids back on the peanut paste, butter, milk and juice will ever survive?

I’m a bloody mess, says a friend as he prepares to farewell his son. His gruff demeanour and diesel smeared overall clad exterior mask a very soft heart and he admits: I’m just not ready to let him go yet. Another friend puts on a brave face when we meet outside the post office after he’s dropped his son to a plane taking him 2000 km away to an exciting new job. It’s just so far away, he says.

It’s a tricky time, but we all hope we’ve done the best we can and just hope our kids are ready to go out into the big wide world and survive. And that not putting the lids back on things probably won’t kill them.

At 11.26 am the phone rings. I forgot the iPod charger. At 12.04 pm, it’s a favourite t-shirt still on the clothesline. 1.36 pm, the bike-lock. 4.32 pm I love you mum.

Nice to know I’ll be needed for a while yet.

© Kristen Lawler 2012

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