Empty nest after 20 years

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And then there were two. Standing in the kitchen of a house built for four, blinking at each other, wondering where the past 20 years went.

It’s all fine and dandy raising strong, independent girls - but when push comes to shove and those strong, independent girls leave home aged 19 and 16 to pursue their dreams, those brave words come back to bite you. And they leave a painful mark.

And guess what? Whether you lovingly made artisan packed lunches for them every day of primary school, or bought them a sandwich from the “Whoops!” section of the petrol station five minutes before the bell went - when your kids walk out the door, it will be without a backwards glance.

Which is how it should be. Daughter #2 had never even caught a bus to town before she got a place at LIPA Sixth Form in Liverpool to study acting. Now she gets herself up every morning at her auntie’s house, where she stays during the week, bips her bus pass in the bipper and commutes to college.

There are some strange sights, sounds and smells on public transport of our major cities at that time of a morning but she just gets on with it.

Before this, she’d been on more aeroplanes than buses - thanks to dad’s taxi - but now thinks nothing of buying a train ticket online, walking to the station and travelling back to Liverpool at the start of every week.

You want to know how fast time thunders on? She starts driving lessons in eight weeks. I nearly fainted typing that.

Despite writing a column about parenting every week for the past 13 years, I know very little about it. I make it all up as I go along, just like you. But over two decades of life at the coal-face, I’ve learned two things. 1. Be there for them. 2. Their life isn’t an extension of yours - let them live their own.

- SOUTH AMERICA UPDATE: Daughter #1’s three-month road trip finds her and her buddy in Chile this week. They’ve been on a cable car ride up to San Cristobal Park in Santiago, got sunburnt at Vina del Mar and are currently on a 24-hour bus ride to God knows where. The Instagram pics look good though.