Milestones are so important when you children are small. You count them up and show them off as much as possible and then as your children start to get older, the milestones seem to become less significant. There are less of them and maybe life just gets too busy and as parents we don’t have the time to give them as much thought. They are still there though from the teeth falling out to first trips away without parents, they just don’t shout as loud as those all important early years milestones that we anxiously await.
This week was the final parents’ evening for the teen before he takes his A levels. One of those milestones. The final time I would be going into his school. The final chat with his teachers before he goes out into the world to find his way.
That is a milestone. A huge milestone and one that hadn’t really dawned on me until I was there.
It was more subdued and less frantic than the others had been. Parents were huddled together talking quietly to each other, sharing memories and stories. The phrase “where has the time gone?” endlessly uttered with a shake of the head. It was a celebration of what our children had achieved and what they had become and a realisation that an era was ending and we were starting to lose that brief insight into the lives of our children and the element of control that came with it. For many it was all the more significant as this was their youngest child. I have many more parents’ evenings with my other children to come, but I was still shaking my head along with them.
Looking at my grown up, independent eighteen year old son makes me so proud. I had a huge part in creating him and moulding him into the amazing young man he has become. But it also makes me feel overwhelmingly sad. Sad in a way that it is difficult to explain but I feel like he has moved on. He isn’t my little boy anymore. I have very little influence or sway over his decisions and actions. He very much does his own thing.
Of course that is a good thing. I have always encouraged him to be independent, to try things for himself, to take responsibility for his actions. I didn’t want him to be following me around in his twenties, dependent on me for everything. I have seen too many cases of this over the years and I think that it is far better to make your children see the value of independence and to do things for themselves from a young age.
But the offset of that is that they reach this point and they don’t always need you anymore. They make their own decisions and they do their own things. They have lives that you can occasionally glimpse into when they talk to you, but it is often a quick glimpse and it is gone.
So as we prepare for the next chapter, there is talk of travel and voluntary work and then university, it feels like a limb is slowly being torn away. He will always be my son but my baby has gone and grown up.