I’ve always been an emotional soul, so as soon as my son found out that he’d got into his first choice of university, I knew I was in for a challenge. I was, of course, ecstatic for him because all of his hard work and determination had paid off, but at the same time, I knew that my own life was about to change. Like it or lump it, I was going to have to adjust to it and try to lick my wounds in secret.
The school holidays had whizzed by and when he went travelling round Europe for a couple of weeks, I was lulled into a false sense of security. I had quickly got used to his empty bedroom, so surely I would be fine when he went off to university?
How wrong I was! Fast forward to September and as each day went by, I became more and more prone to weepiness. I berated myself for spoiling the time that we had left together and tried to heed my husband’s advice of ‘getting a grip’. I snatched at any offers of spending time together; we had lots of fun trying out student recipes, watching horror movies with the lights out, playing old board games, walking the dog and going out on day trips, but I can’t deny that it was constantly overshadowed by the thought of him leaving.
With one week to go, my son was suddenly in limbo; his girlfriend and many of his friends had already started their courses and he didn’t waste much time filling up the dining room with everything he wanted to take, including enough food rations to feed the whole university, the sacred football, a crate of cider and his dumbbells. We managed to talk him out of taking his guitar because I didn’t want him to make himself too unpopular with the other thirteen students who he’d be sharing with. I can’t promise it won’t jump into the car after Christmas though!
Finally, the day I had been dreading for so long arrived. Fair play to my husband, he crammed everything into the car, leaving just enough room for a scrunched up student balancing on one buttock in the back seat. I was well-prepared with a pair of sunglasses to hide my red, swollen eyes and had my handbag full of tissues.
Once we’d unloaded his belongings and helped him put it all away, we knew that it was time to go (I don’t think he could wait to get rid of us and explore the campus, to be honest). My lower lip started to wobble and even Mr. C. had a tear in his eye as he hugged him good-bye.
Several weeks have now passed and I have got used to the absence of teenage mess, noise, and smells. I still do a double-take when I look in the laundry basket and don’t find it full of PJs, boxers, odd socks and creased (but not dirty) T-shirts. I no longer have the daily task of adjusting the shower head back to my height, there aren’t loads of empty bottles of shampoo and shower gel cluttering up the bathroom and I don’t have anyone asking, ‘What’s for lunch?’ when it’s 4.30pm and I’m already planning the evening meal. The electricity bill must surely have gone down too, as the lights aren’t constantly left on and the dishwasher is on far less frequently.
It’s fine really, but please don’t look at my calendar as you’ll see that I’ve been counting down the days to the Christmas holidays!
Ali’s romantic comedy, Home Comforts, is available from Amazon
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