Taking my son, Rogan, off to University yesterday was full of mixed emotions.
We are immensely proud of him: he's going to study physics at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. Our hearts also ache at him flying the nest. For 18 years we have raised him from a tiny, helpless baby - I can still remember holding him in the hospital for the first time - through to a strapping adult with a 7-inch Mohawk and a laid back self assurance.
Rogan holding a flash unit, while I operated it remotely from my camera
He'll be back during the breaks, no doubt with a semester's worth of dirty laundry, but it will be on different terms. At the moment, we have never been apart from him for more than 7 consecutive days since he was born, and that was for a school skiing trip a few years ago. Not just physically, but psychologically he will make that separation over the next few months as he learns to live independently from us.
Of course this is what we have been working towards. The role of parents is to try and raise the child to a point where they can leave home and be unlikely to end up killed by their own ignorance or stupidity. And I think he's off to a good start. He's bright, sociable, and has a warm heart. And he's certainly a great deal more together than either his mother or I were at his age.
I would be lying if I said there wasn't more than a touch of wistful envy too. he's heading off to a place full of potential, with interesting people to meet and experiences ahead, at a time when he doesn't have the responsibilities of housing, car repayments or dependants. Although he will be saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of student loan debts by the time he leaves.
For him, we are excited and pleased. But for us... well, there's a great big Rogan-shaped hole in the house and our hearts just at the moment.