I only really remember one harsh time when I noticed being set adrift by my parents and I was already eighteen! My dad dropped me off at the student halls of residence in Glasgow, shut the door behind himself and. just. left. My heart dropped. Now I see his probably did too.
The first time I left my firstborn at primary school, the afternoon I walked away from my wee girl at Brownie camp, today when my son headed off to get the bus to grammar school to begin his secondary education: they all felt like my being had been ripped apart. I kept having flash-backs to hugging them to my chest when they were babies, lying on my hospital bed staring over at them lying in their cots.
Tough love is not easy. Obviously. Sometimes I tell myself, ‘you’re making them stronger’ but mostly, I just want to hold my children tight, keep them close, never let them go. But here’s the rub: they want to leave. Not forever, but for a time. My job is to encourage them to go bravely, and be there when they come back.
I’ve always been a home bird, finding every time I was away more painful than rewarding. When I look back now, I’m very glad I faced the things I did. Ask me to do them again and I’d refuse. But I don’t want that for my children. I want them to be adventurous, take risks, live. I must not cover them with the security blanket I always craved.
I have to let them fly.