I will admit it the nesting instinct has hit hard around here.
NO I’m not pregnant. Those days are well behind me now and the only patter of little tiny feet that I want to hear anytime soon is the dogs or one day (maybe/hopefully/fingers crossed) grandchildren.
You know how you coast along thinking life is pretty much as it should be then life throws you a curve ball? . It suddenly dawned on me that Elise officially finishes school in just a few weeks – October 27 in fact…..and I don’t mind admitting to it freaking me out. Why this fact had passed me by I don’t know she reminds me of it daily and it is written in my diary but I seem to have been able to ignore the fact that my girl will very shortly (once her final exams are over) will be finished with the first part of her education and that in the eyes of the world – and hers – she will be an adult and able to make adult decisions all by her very self. Ok so Elise is 18 already and considered an adult – but in this household Ashley and I ignore that fact while the kids are still at school…..it’s one of the priviledges of being parents that we cling to.
This change in educational status also means that Elise will be heading off to uni next year to study primary teaching for four years. Which as you can imagine has lead to all sorts of discussions on where she will stay and will she just stay in Bendigo for the University year or for the full four years it will take to get her degree. This has been the biggest shock of all – the fact that my girl wants to leave home and to live away from home – a whole two hours away – all on her own and make her own decisions and fend for herself and that she wants to stay in Bendigo for four calendar years not just the uni terms!!!!
I know that Ashley and I have continually taught and shown by example our children how to be independent, socially upstanding young people who are considerate of others and careful with their money…..but somehow it suddenly feels that we may not have covered everything that our kids – and by that , in this instance, I mean Elise – will need to know in order to survive in the big wide world. I know she will make mistakes and there will be times when there will be a frantic phone call home to say she needs some money, or food, or both and part of that is the growing up process. And I know that hundreds, thousands, millions of other parents have gone through what I am facing but why do I feel like I’m all on my own and terrified? If Ashley is worried he won’t admit it and I honestly don’t think he is worried.
It’s not so much the idea of her being at university that worries me. I have no doubt she has the work ethic and the drive and desire to do well at her studies. Teaching has been a dream and passion of hers for so many years that I can’t see her not loving it and doing well. It’s the idea that she will be living in Bendigo on her own. Part of the accommodation discussions have been whether she will stay on campus for twelve months or live in a flat of her own. While Ashley would like to see her on campus, Elise has decided (and I knew she would – call it knowing my girl all too well) that she would rather have a flat or unit of her own somewhere in town where she has her own space and the quiet she needs to study when she has to. Of course that means that Ashley and I will be paying out a considerable amount of money over the next four years in rent and that doesn’t worry us. Elise will get what work she can and pay her own way as much as she can and certainly we don’t mind making that financial sacrifice.
I know Elise will make friends. When we visited La Trobe Uni on their open day we did go to a talk on the course Elise wants to study. There the chief lecturer said that they have (for the past couple of years and are going to continue to do so) put the new first year students in “pods” of around 25 students and that pod does all their classes and study sessions together for the first six months. It has meant that students settle into uni life much easier and get to know a smaller group of people really well before they launch out into the wider university community. The Uni found that it meant that friendships were faster to form, peer support was more evident and the students didn’t feel so overwhelmed with the massive changes that university life and living away from home presents. I think it’s a brilliant idea and for that matter so did Elise….and I think it eased some of the worry about meeting new people for her. It eased my worries somewhat as well.
It’s just the living on her own thing that gets to me. But as there is no way to change her mind – believe me once it’s made up then that’s it – and she assures me she will get a “guard” cat for company….vbg….it looks like I will just have to be a big girl, hide my fears and let my baby fly the nest. At least Bendigo is only two hours away so if there is an emergency we aren’t far away and I predict quite a bit of travelling back and forth for a while until we call settle into a routine and get used to the idea of being apart. I can – in moments of clarity – see quite a few advantages of Elise being in Bendigo. We will get a two bedroom flat for her so we can have a bed when we visit and I can see there will be advantages to having somewhere to stay when the wool show in Bendigo is on for example……..I might be able to attend two days instead of the one I currently attend. Ok so I’m looking at the advantages for me here but it’s a case of have to lest the fears overwhelm me.
So I have been making lists. Heaven help me if I loose this book. As we have been thinking of things that Elise needs it is written down in this book and as we buy them/make them/find them at home they are marked off. So far so good but the lists are growing longer and while Elise is very good at making do there are essentials that she will need right from day one.
I have been crocheting around face washers too. I know a fairly basic idea but this is where the nesting instinct really kicks in. I can’t stand the thought of my girl going down to a boring sterile flat with the absolute essentials that do nothing to make it feel like home. If crocheted face washers in the bathroom and hand made cushions in the lounge give the impression that this is Elise’s home then by golly I’m your girl for making them. Of course I have had to tread lightly and check with Elise before I make anything but so far so good and she has liked what I have done. We had the bargain of the year yesterday picking up two lounge chairs at the op shop for $5 each. They are very sturdy and just need new slip covers made and they will be as good as new. Best of all they are comfortable and as her father has declined to “gift” her with our lounge suit (cause her mother would love a new one) she is very happy with them.
One of the very essential items that Elise wanted to start her new life was her very own copy of Cookery the Australian Way”. I have a very old copy that I bought when I finished secondary school – it’s the cookery book that schools use – and it’s awesome and there was no way she was going to be allowed to take it. So we hunted on ebay and picked up a copy that is in excellent condition. As I said when I handed it to her – “Treat it lovingly and you will still be using it in 50 years time”. Elise just smiled. For those that don’t know Cookery the Australian way is a cook book filled with good basic common sense – budgeting, cuts of meat, how to freeze and preserve food and basic, generally easy, nourishing dishes that will keep a uni student from starving or living on baked beans. It is the one cook book that all three of my kids, and myself for that matter, reach for when they want to know something about food preparation or a recipe that they know will work – everytime!!!
So now I wait and prepare as best I can. Elise still has the VCE exams to get through and results from those don’t come out until December. Then providing she gets the marks she needs first round offers for University come out on January 16 2012. Which seems a long way off but I know it will be here in the blink of an eye. So I wait and try not to worry and if there is a bit of silence on my blog you will know it’s because it’s all become a bit overwhelming and I have hunkered down and am letting life drift buy.
For those of you who have watched your children fly the nest and attend university or work in other towns – any advice???? I need all the help I can get.