Slipping Through My Fingers…

First day at school
First day at school

There’s something about a good pop song that can bring tears to your eyes. And no one does the bringing tears to your eyes thing better than Abba. I defy anyone with a heart to listen to that break in Agnetha’s voice in The Winner Takes It All in the last verse not to choke up- even a little bit.

Go on- have a listen. It’s the part where she sings (her Swedish accent getting stronger as the emotion builds):

I don’t want to talk- if it makes you feel bad

And I understand…you’ve come (insert break in voice here) to shake (another mini break) my hand.

I’m welling a little as I type.

Then there’s the everyday suburban normalcy of One Man One Woman– this time with the more grown up Frida as lead.

The one that keeps coming up for me this week, though- and this is for the confessional link-up, so I’m sure my secret is safe with you- is Slipping Through My Fingers. It gives me goosebumps.

You see, Miss 17 is finishing school this week. What comes next? I have no idea- and that’s the scary bit. The even scarier bit is knowing that I have to let go and allow for it all to be. Sure, I can influence her- I’m a master at that- but gone is that certainty that between the hours of 8am-4.30pm I’ll know exactly where she is.

To date, it’s been about firsts- the first morning sickness spew, the first time I felt her move, the first smile, the first time she slept through the night (don’t hate me- she was just 5 weeks old), the first tooth, the first steps, first day at school, first day at high school.

Now those firsts are turning into lasts- the last ever first day of term, the last set of school fees (yes, that occasion was worth marking), the last school report. More than that, both the firsts and the lasts are taking her into territory where I can’t necessarily protect her anymore- instead I have to trust that she is as grounded as we think she is.

My husband reminded me that he had a full-time job and was paying rent out of home at 18 when his parents moved house.

‘That’s different,’ I said.

‘How so?’

‘It just was.’

Then he reminded me that I was all set to move to Canberra to study at the same age she is now.

‘That’s different,’ I said.

‘How so?’

‘It just was. Besides, I didn’t go.’

It’s true- I didn’t. I got accepted into an economics degree at Sydney University and stayed at home. Besides- I was the eldest of four- Mum would have been too busy to miss me too much.

The thing is, I’ve always had a good relationship with my daughter and consider myself very lucky that we’ve done so much together, that we do so much together and that she still enjoys doing things with me- but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel her slipping away- even though I know logically that she isn’t. What’s slipping away is my (perceived) control.

She got her driver’s licence last week, so now she’s off on her own- mostly in my car. That’s cool- it’s about her gaining her independence little by little…but if I said I didn’t worry, I’d be lying.

Having said that, I’m prouder than I can say of the young woman she’s becoming, and excited beyond words at the possibilities that await her.

It doesn’t, however, mean that I won’t shed just as many tears at graduation on Friday morning as I did on that first day in February 2003.

Now, excuse me while I go and play the song again…Oh, the link to Agnetha singing it is here…the Mamma Mia version is here.

Linking up for I Must Confess with My Home Truths

She's the one on the left...
She’s the one on the left…

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

8 thoughts

  1. What a heart-felt post Jo. Your words evoke the pain and the sense of loss that you are feeling right now, as well as your pride in watching your daughter grow and flourish. As hard as the loss of control is, it’s the way it naturally has to be (easy for me to say wit many years of control still ahead of me!!!)

  2. That is such a poignant post. From all the firsts to feeling like they are your lasts and in some ways they are – but mamma Mia you will always be her mum and she has plenty of firsts to share with you as well. Go gently as you navigate a new phase together. Mel xx #myhometruths

  3. Oh, exciting and sad times. (And I still can’t believe school finishes so early down south!)

    I was at Uni and living at a college on campus 6wks after I turned 17 but I struggle to try and imagine my 19 yr old niece doing something similar. I expect we (they) just cope, as we did. I don’t know much about her but it sounds as if you’ve done a great job as parents and certainly the way you speak about her makes me think you’ve instilled in her a sense of responsibility but also a passion and enthusiasm for life (which you have). Plus you’re really close so it’s hard to imagine how she can’t be a lovely person and I bet whatever comes next will be wonderful!

    1. Thanks Deb- it’s so strange when you look at it from the eyes of an adult & imagine them doing the same. Now we’ve just got to get through the HSC…

  4. well said, Jo. Love that song too and makes me feel teary too…ah that bittersweet truth of children growing older!

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