My house is feeling a lot emptier than usual … 5 days ago, I said farewell to Miss 18 as she embarked on a Gap Year to the UK. I’ve known it was coming for such a long time but it still managed to creep up on me until suddenly it was no longer something that was going to happen in the future … instead it was happening NOW and then, just as quickly, NOW became yesterday … and she was gone!
Her Gap Year was organised by her former school. There are 14 students in total going and they have each been placed to live and work in a school in the UK for a year. The school where Miss 18 will be working is located just north of London and is a boarding/day school for children aged 3 – 13. She will live and work at the school during term time and on breaks she will travel with the other “Gappies”. The exploring has already begun as she spends the first seven days of her Gap Year in Edinburgh.
It was a busy time getting her ready to live away from home for a whole year. She has taken only winter clothes for the moment but I’ve booked to visit during her first term break which starts at the end of March, so I’ll take all her summer clothes with me then. As well as her wardrobe, there was a lot to think about like bank accounts, mobile phones, money and insurances to name a few and a lot of documents, visas and paperwork to prepare but we got it all done.
Saying goodbye was one of toughest things I’ve ever done … excruciatingly tough … but it was also exciting. To think that she had this incredible opportunity and to imagine the experiences and adventures that awaited made it all seem that little bit easier to bear. I won’t lie though, there were tears … lots of tears … hers, mine and everybody else’s as she said goodbye to family, friends and her two beautiful sisters.
Letting go of your child that you’ve loved and protected fiercely for 18 years is always going to be difficult. It’s so easy to worry and be afraid and think of all the reasons why they shouldn’t go. But I’ve consoled myself with the knowledge that she’s smart, practical, sensible, mature, cautious and not a huge risk taker. She’s not impulsive and thinks before she acts, she knows her own mind and is not easily led by others … she will be okay. In fact, she’ll be better than okay and will grow so much personally and emotionally in this year, of that I have no doubt.
She is starting a new chapter in her life where she will move from her comfort zone and everything that is familiar. She will broaden her horizons, plunge bravely into the unknown and she will see the world. In the process, she will learn some invaluable life skills … she will have to problem solve, she will become fiercely independent and she will also become self-reliant in a way that even she couldn’t imagine. She will earn a salary from which she will learn to budget and she will learn some wonderful workplace skills as well. She will make new friends and learn to adapt to life in a new and different country. But most of all she will discover who she is and learn that she is capable and able to stand on her own two feet. I truly admire her courage … I don’t think, in fact I know, I couldn’t have done the same at her age.
Undoubtedly she will make mistakes, probably lots of them but, in the process, she will continue to learn. She’ll fall down but she will get back up again, learning that she has the capacity to do so without leaning on Mum and Dad. I’m also confident a Gap Year, after 13 years of schooling will promote a more mature, focussed and motivated approach to her Uni studies once she returns.
She has been gone now for 5 days and, despite her being over 16,000 kms away, technology is helping to make the distance seem so much less. We’ve texted and face timed each other numerous times. She has called when she has felt down and overwhelmed by the enormity of what she has committed to. She has been messaging photos of each new thing she sees and does and I’m so deeply touched that she wants to share her special moments with us.
I’m also excited because I will be visiting her and travelling to England and Europe for the first time. I’ve travelled a lot through Asia, the South Pacific and America but never made it to that other side of the world. I’ve booked my flight for the end of March, courtesy of my QANTAS frequent flyer points, which I’ve been accruing like a mad woman. I’ll be away for almost 3 weeks and, although we’ve yet to plan where we will travel and what we will do, I’m simply focussed on seeing her … and yes, the daily countdown has begun. Hubby and I will visit her again in July/August and she will fly home for her eldest sister’s wedding in October before finally returning home in time for Christmas next year.
Her return won’t come soon enough but, in the meantime, adventure awaits for my darling girl … we sincerely hope she enjoys every moment! We love her more than anything and we miss her desperately! It’s going to be a long year!