As many of us prepare to bid farewell to our university and college-bound children I was reminded of an article I read recently in the paper. A journalist asked a number of her women friends what advice they'd give their daughters on growing up. It was a beautiful article and reminded me of the letter I'd written to my daughter as she left for university five years ago.
We face so many transitions in midlife and our children leaving the nest is one of them. It's bittersweet. We're excited for them as they embark on this next stage, I remember my excitement leaving home. We also dread the silence, the emptiness, yes, even the dirty washing and plates and cups left in their room! We gave them roots and now is the time to show our greatest love for them by allowing them to fly.
Here is an extract from a letter I wrote to my daughter as she left for university. With her permission I share it with you today.
Dearest darling girl
Today is the beginning of the next stage in your life. Today we head off to your new home at University. Where do I start in telling you how proud I feel to be called Mama/Mummy by you?
We've laughed at how you burst into this world with a scowl on your face, how determined you have always been right from learning to walk and feeding yourself to making big decisions for your life. You will succeed in whatever you decide to do with your life.
There were days during your illness that frightened both you and me, the days I wasn't sure you had the strength or the will to make it. The courage it took to tell you one day that I couldn't fix you, this couldn't be mended with paracetamol or a band aid. Telling you that you needed to want to get better was the hardest and yet the greatest day. From that day you took responsibility and decided you wanted to beat anorexia. And how you have done that my darling. You are thriving in so many ways.
You have taught me so much in how to be a good parent. I have learned to be more patient, more tolerant, more understanding, more resilient, more trusting, more proud, more compassionate because of you. We are blessed in our relationship as mother and daughter and friends. I love you.
I don't think I've ever felt so proud of you as when you came home from school to say that you wanted to go to West Africa between school and university. You chose to go alone, and to raise the money yourself. You have such incredible strength of character, resilience and determination, it is at times hard to believe that you are only 18-years-old. You experienced something in that month that few dare experience in a lifetime.
So here are my words of wisdom to you as you embark on your next big adventure --
- believe you are capable of so much more than you think possible
- follow your passion -- always
- let no one tell you you can't achieve your dream
- surround yourself with great girlfriends, those who encourage and inspire you
- take risks
- love with all your heart -- remember it's a muscle, it doesn't break, it just gets bruised and bruises fade with time
- always wear SPF30 on your face
- manage your finances well
- learn to enjoy your own company
- never stop learning -- new skills, new ways of thinking...
- trust your intuition -- if it feels right do it, if you have any doubt -- don't
- LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good." -- Minor Myers Jnr
With all my love always
What would you say to your daughter or son? They might be still tiny or indeed fully grown. What advice would you give? What guiding words would you have appreciated when you were 18?