So, are your kids every really off your hands? - Fiona Duff

Yesterday my youngest daughter arrived back home from university. So what, you may think – but this is it.

Time to step out into the big world after graduation
Time to step out into the big world after graduation

She is now fully cooked, and ready to set off and find a job which will keep her in bread and jam for about the next 50 years. To be honest Lord knows what age one will retire when she starts to think about that.

I was out with a few other mothers from her year group the other day and whilst we do talk about many things other than our children, they are mentioned now and then. “Tell me”, asked one of them rather conspiratorially, “do you feel sad that your daughter has finished university?”. Of course not I replied. And she smiled in a somewhat relieved manner.

Not for a minute do I think that she’ll fly off into the sunset with not another word to me or her father. In fact she’s not really got any plans to go anywhere until September. First of all there is a summer of 21st birthday parties, a bit of work at a festival to pay for her friends’ presents and at least one holiday.

To be honest that sounds like the sort of few months that I would quite like, although the parties I would be attending are like to be celebrating a far greater age. At times they feel more like some heroic achievement – as if still being the owner of a beating heart after 60 or 70 years is quite a surprise.

Even her older siblings, who have been working for a few years, know that if they need help or support it is me to whom they turn. When their cat dies, when they need to borrow a car (well have you seen the price of car rental for an emergency week’s work?) or when they have some exciting news I shall always be at the end of the phone.

Mind you, there won’t be any of that this week. My husband and I are having a few days break with friends in Italy. And the phone is on silent.