I am saying goodbye to my eldest two children again today and the sadness weighs on me. I dropped the eldest off together with mum and aunt at a more distant church than usual. It’s all about timings to which church they go to and this one is over a mile away to walk to so I gave them a life in the hire car. From church she will walk into town and go to the train station to catch the next train back to her home. As she pointed out this morning, she doesn’t really have a room in my house anymore. She does but the problem is that other people are occupying it when she visits us so the last two times she has been, she has had to sleep elsewhere; last night she shared the bed with her sister. From my point of view, home is certainly a place where I have space to be on my own, so this house wouldn’t feel very homely to me if I was my daughter (if you see what I mean).

My life is easier when eldest is around. I can delegate to her knowing that she can cope with anything that crops up. Our latest Japanese student arrived on Thursday when I was out; this was okay because eldest was at the house to greet her. I knew number one would enjoy meeting our visitor and be a welcoming host. We also have some other visitors arriving this weekend one of whom is staying on to study at St Andrew’s University for a year. Number one was a comfort because if I needed to focus my energy on driving, I knew she would be perfectly capable of being sociable and sorting out any issues with the student accommodation, etc; though neither of us needed to do this anyway. There is an ease of understanding between my eldest daughter and I.

Yesterday was a busy day doing things. It was a tiring day for me, doing lots of driving but it was also a rewarding day. We went to a garden party at lunchtime which was a fund raiser for a local charity that was setup to help unemployed young people gain experience to enable them to find work. There was a lovely atmosphere at the party, a brass band played, local produce was on sale, and the café that is part of the project laid on the catering. The garden was lovely too, particular the large pond and amusing signs intermingled in the borders to explain what was going on. Unfortunately traffic on our local motorway bridge caused quite a bit of congestion which meant we had less time at the party than originally planned because I needed to get to St Andrews too.

Our north American visitors are relatives of my wife; an aunt and cousin. My wife’s family is large and this particular branch consists of ten siblings. Due to the size of the family, her aunt is actually nearer to our age and her cousin is a year younger than our eldest child. Whatever the reason, I feel really comfortable with them and enjoy their company. It was a privilege really, to take the cousin to university with her mum. I know how difficult it is for me to leave a child in a new environment and though I don’t know how aunty feels, I think it is supportive to know that we are nearby to help the cousin if she needs support in any way. This mirrors how eldest went to study in Singapore for a year; we didn’t take her there, but other cousins of my wife were there to meet, support and occasionally treat her. Somehow this eases the guilt of not being there when times are hard.

I am waiting for number two child to finish getting ready for the day. He needs to pack his things into the hire car before I drive us down to his new student flat. This will be his first experience of sharing a flat with friends but he is such an easy going chap that I don’t think it will phase him. My son is the child I see most of myself in and I am so happy that he has developed without the social anxiety (at least to the same extent) that I have. I will take him to his new home even though it will be painful for me not only because it is my duty as a parent, but also because I want to. If this is a snippet of his life I get to share then I will because at the moment that feels more important than anything else. His presence comforts me too and I remember being disappointed that he didn’t make it into the hospital to see me the last time I was in; I think symbolically it would have meant something because he has never visited me in hospital before just by himself. We are not the most talkative pair in the world but we share similar interests and I like that.

Number three child is in bed still. She spends a lot of time in her chrysalis slowly changing into an adult; I don’t expect I will see her before I leave with my son although she is very fond of him. It will be strange to go back to being the three of us again. We won’t be though, our Japanese visitor is here for five months and aunty is here for a week I think. There might not actually be much time to miss my eldest two children.

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