Will there be tears at the uni gate?

Trish Burgess with husband Dougie and son. ANL-141209-173848001
Trish Burgess with husband Dougie and son. ANL-141209-173848001

Blogger Trish Burgess writes for the Free Press

September is the month of new beginnings. I remember the first time I took my son Rory to school, his little hand clasped in mine.

He confidently walked into his classroom and made a bee­line for the jigsaws. I, meanwhile, made a hurried exit, trying not to cry until I was out of sight.

Each September after that was another new start as he moved up through the infants and the juniors. My role changed from year to year, firstly taking him by the hand to the cloakroom to hang up his little coat before eventually only needing to wave him off at the gate.

Secondary school was a huge step. Taking the bus each morning, he looked such a small boy with a heavy rucksack. I hovered some metres from the bus stop on the first day to make sure he got on it and spent anxious moments looking out of the window in the late afternoon, waiting for him to appear.

As I type this I am trying to prepare myself for the next September beginning. There are only a couple of days to go before my boy goes off to university for the first time. The nest is going to be empty very soon and, in an effort to not think about it, I am busying myself with washing clothes and making lists. I remember my own first day at university. I was nervous, of course, but keen for my parents to leave so I could just get on with it. My mum tells me she cried all the way home and felt a keen sense of loss for weeks afterwards.

In those days, the 1980s, keeping in touch with family back home was difficult. We communicated by letter, Mum often sending me cheery cards with clippings from the local paper. There was also the weekly phone call, necessitating a walk to the phone box in town to queue, pockets full of 10p pieces, and ring at the prearranged time. No wonder my parents felt cut off from me.

I know that if my son wants to contact me there are so many ways he can do it: a call from his mobile, a text, an email, a Facebook message, Skype: all done from the comfort of his own room. Of course, the reverse is also true. Unless my husband restrains me, Rory is in danger of being pestered by his mother on a regular basis using all these forms of communication.

Rory leaving will be a huge wrench for us in so many ways. There will be one less place to set at the table, the back seat of the car will be empty when we go on trips and there will be a large Rory-­shaped space on the sofa next to his dad, especially when sport is on the TV. But there won’t be a space in my heart. He filled that 18 years ago and will stay there forever.

You can follow Trish on Twitter @mumsgoneto and read her blog at www.mumsgoneto.blogspot.com