Freshers week

This week is freshers week and many parents will have spent the weekend dropping off their offspring with all the emotion that that involves.


It’s freshers week, which means lots of parents up and down the country have been on the motorways over the weekend, their cars packed with duvets and clothes as they dropped their kids at university for the first time and faced all the emotions that come with that. We were among them, even though daughter two had a false start last year, beginning at one university before dropping out due to it not being the right place, the right course or the right time for her.

The campus at the last place was quite a way from any signs of life and her ‘flat’ mates barely socialised. It was a bit of a lonely, depressing experience and daughter two is a big homebody in any event. I think sometimes there is too much pressure on young people to feel they have to go to university these days when it might not be what they really want to do [even if they don’t really have a clue what it is they want to do] even if they and their families can afford for them to go in the first place.

The new university is definitely more lively. And the students seem more friendly. We were trying to figure out how to get the wifi to work – daughter two was anticipating the kind of problems she had with IT at the last university where, for a month, the university’s IT system refused to believe she was a student there. Daughter one has a wifi problem that went on for a month until a friend recommended extenders to me. A knock came on the door. It was a fellow flatmate who had come to say hello. He sorted the wifi and said there was a flat meeting downstairs.

Still, daughter two looked a little forlorn when we left her. This whole growing up thing is much more complicated than I ever remember it being, despite or maybe because there is so much more on offer together with more expectations.

I know that as a parent I’m a bit rubbish at letting go and, of course, there are lots of very good reasons for that. University beginnings are fraught in our house, given daughter one was killed in her first year of university. Somehow we have to get beyond that, but it is not easy no matter how much you know that letting go is a hugely important part of parenting. All of my being is trying not to let go of daughter one. People write about the need to say goodbye and so on all the time. My counsellor basically told me I need to learn to say goodbye better, and I know I have avoided it generally in life – mainly because I haven’t been in control of comings and goings – but nothing in me wants to do it when it comes to daughter one. I don’t think that until you go through something as traumatic as losing a child that you really comprehend this truly. People try to talk to you about it, in a sensible voice, but they have no comparable experience and it somehow feels like a judgment when just getting up in the morning is still very hard.

Maybe it will get easier and maybe I don’t want it to because that means I have moved on and left her behind, which I will never do, but everything seems to keep coming at us so fast – Covid, exams, university, work… I think many people feel the need for a temporary pause these days. Some time to gather your forces before facing the sheer relentlessness of everyday life these days.

Hopefully, daughter two will be okay. At least we managed to get her a cosy duvet cover after she only brought a thin duvet in the belief that we were going to be in permanent summer till December. Hopefully the course is good and the people nice. Meanwhile, it’s back to the September onslaught.

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