My daughter — her journey to independence and womanhood
Yesterday, I escorted my daughter to Heathrow Terminal 2 for a 28 hour journey to New Zealand. During the final stages of her degree, she'd decided now was the time to grow up, become more responsible and hopefully stop relying on me as her mum.
I gave birth to my daughter on 8th March in the 90s, International Women's Day and, having been in labour with my son for 30 hours 2 years before, a 3 hour labour was amazing.
Having a big brother that was full of energy and requiring alot of attention during the day, my daughter instantly became the polar opposite. She only made minimal noise during the day to let me know when she was hungry but would be awake most nights because she suffered from temperature convulsions.
As she grew up and during primary school, my daughter was extremely introverted to the point where she would look to me to answer most questions from any adults.
I sent my daughter to The Greycoat Hospital in Westminster as it was a church school and two minutes from work. Due to her need to be close to me, my daughter would come from school and sit in my office canteen until I finished work and this was for the whole of her first year. She slowly started to become more independent throughout her time in secondary school and would make her own way home but would still ask what was for dinner.
At 17, my daughter's confidence grew when she was able to secure a job in a local well known women's clothes shop without my help. When she went for a trial and the only feedback was 'you need to be more confident and speak up'. This was the next stage in her independence but, looking back, was not enough as I continued to pay for everything and let her chose what to do with her money.
My daughter chose a university far enough away from home that she could come back at weekends and this was probably our biggest mistake as she never really became financially or emotionally mature. My mother had a heart attack in her 2nd year which brought her home and with the break up of a boyfriend, that was the end of university.
My daughter came back home and took a job back at the women’s clothes shop and, with hindsight, this was a backward step as her dependence on me grew stronger.
After some healing and reflection, my daughter decided to go back to a university near home to finish her degree.
Things were going well and she was on course to get a First, but the person she had known as her 2nd mother when growing up (my mother) died after years of suffering with Alzheimer's. This was a massive blow for her, but because I was unable to help her or myself, she became my support network. I now know that this was the start of womanhood for my daughter. I had to look to her for confidence and reassurance so the tables very quickly turned. She was also able to get an extension and secure a 2:1 honours degree in Criminology.
During this time, she made the decision to go to New Zealand for a chance to grow up and live without the financial security and emotional support of mum and step dad. At the time, I was excited for her and hadn't really thought about the emotional impact on me but I'm here in bed with a very bad cold checking the flight tracker every 30 minutes.
My daughter has made her way to New Zealand, without a job or a plan. The aim is to very quickly find work, a permanent home and friends without the aid of mum. I am very proud of her for taking this adventurous and exciting opportunity and can't wait for her to return as a woman.
I am yet to completely cut the ties as I watch her via flight tracker on each flight. Prior to her departure, I also covered all the important things like travel insurance and spending money as my daughter urgently needed to buy new clothes etc to be prepared. These are the things that I will need to change to allow her journey to truly be as independent as possible.
One of the key things that affected me when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's was the realisation that, although I had a 20 year old and an 18 year old at the time, I had to be solely reliant on myself. This had come as a shock as up until now, mum was my back up including anything financial - although I hadn't really needed her for many years.
I want my daughter's initiation to womanhood to be a much smoother more enjoyable experience where she is fully independent and welcomes my company without the need for financial or emotional extras. I am keen for her to grow her own metaphorical eyes and ears whilst I'm still available both mentally and physically so that she has a strong sense of self.
Socrates said 'to find yourself, think for yourself'.