Child leaving home for university

Roots and Wings – when your child goes off to University

Someone said to me this year “All we can do as parents is give our children roots and wings”. It really struck me and this week as my eldest child left home for University it felt very apt.

I talk about parenting quite a bit here, and it has been interesting to read back how I have felt at different times of our lives. You can read my post about not having a clue how to be a parent here. And my letter to all the imperfect mothers here.

Traveling the world

I have three teenage children aged 14, 16 and 18. It is such a shift as a mother to move into the teen years. The things that they need you for change as does your whole relationship. Over the summer, my 18 year old went to New York for 3 weeks on holiday and my 16 year old spent two months in Australia with my sister and so it has been a very odd year!

When the kids starting talking about going to travel, I was all for it. I truly believe that travel broadens the mind, the spirit and is a positive thing. When the time actually came round, I felt a lot more nervous about seeing my bambinos go off into the world. I was scared, worried and tearful. This is when I was told about roots and wings.

Dalai Lama quote roots and wings

The Dalai Lama said “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back to and reasons to stay”

I’m proud that my kids have the confidence to fly the nest and explore the world. I know they will always have my roots to head back to if they need me and they know that I love them and I am always their biggest fan.

I have really had to remember this quote this week as my eldest has left home and moved to Leeds to start university! He has moved into a house with his friend, he has a new job and will start his degree course in a couple of weeks.

when your child is leaving for university

The move to university

I have been collecting things for the move for months. Pots and pans, tins and packets, bedding etc. I have made him a little notebook filled with his favourite recipes from home and hints and tips for living alone.

We drove him over to his new home and helped him unpack. My heart was in my chest but the last thing I wanted was to make this exciting day about me. So I held in the tears and smiled as we unpacked with him and got him settled.

Then the time came to drive home. I hugged him tight, told him I loved him and we are always here for him and drove away.

I cried pretty much the whole way home!!!

Honestly, I’m not sad. It’s weird as I am insanely proud of him and I am so excited. For a lad who really disliked school I am shocked that he chose to go to Uni. But I am really looking forward to seeing him grow, mature and have a whole lot of fun.

Time to fly

I suppose the tears are because of change. This is it, the time where he is no longer my baby. Of course he will always be my child. But even if he chooses to come and live back at home in three years, it will never again be the same mother/child relationship. He will be 19 in a week! Our relationship has now shifted and it is scary. I hope I have given him enough love, wisdom, guidance and care and he will fly now.

We tend to relate events back to ourself and I left home at 14, sleeping on peoples couches. I was basically homeless till I was 19. Though I did move back home once or twice, it was years of living with family members or on friends couches. So my experience of leaving home is tied up in fear, pain and loneliness. I have to remember that it’s not my kids experience. Charlie is going off into the world with all our love and support and he cannot wait!

Sam cleasby parent blogger child leaving for university

So roots and wings, I keep reminding myself that leaving home is a part of growing up. I have done this part of my job as a mum. I will always be mum. It’s just a change in what he needs from me now.

You never know the last time

I was told years ago “you never know the last time”. The last time they will sleep in your bed, the last time they will hold your hand as they cross the road, the last time they will need you to chase away the monsters under the bed. Treasure it. The past 19 years have gone in the blink of an eye.

Empty nest, child leaving for university so upset crying

For more information about your kid heading off to university, you might like the Complete University Guide here.

Peace and love,

Sam xx

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