Emma moves to London on Saturday and today we had our last "father-daughter" day out together before this momentous event. It is all part of the paradox of parenthood. On the one hand you want your children to grow up to be confident and able to make your way in the world. On the other hand, this results in them leaving and contact diminishing dramatically
One thing that I have been thinking about a lot at the moment is a period when I was in my late 20s and early 30s and Dad would often ask me if I fancied having a few days away in the Lake District, just the two of us. Generally I was too busy and only managed to do this once or twice in a period of around 10 years. Yet I think back to when I was younger and used to go to the speedway or football with Dad. I once found a list Dad had made of all the speedway meetings we went to - over 300 in all. Now I realise it must have been very sad for him to not share that with me as I grew older, and for me to be totally wrapped up in other events to think of him. And now, of course, its too late . . . .
Its also like that song from the 1970s when a son is asking his father if he'll be home from work much and they can do stuff together and the father never can. Then it is reversed and the son is too busy to do things with the dad. I can't remember the song's title but I do remember the sadness of the constant refrain that when they do get together, "we will have a good time then"
So Emma and I go off this morning and visit Grandma. Emma shows her some photos from Africa while I fix various light bulbs and do other odd jobs. We go for a nice lunch at Hillers, then shopping at Budgen, and back to mum's. She has another NEC fair starting soon and seems happy enough with things.
Then Emma and I travel back via Oxford. We have pancakes together in the Covered Market, buy toiletries in Boots, bath bombs in Lush, and a large hot chocolate in Cafe Nero. On the way back, I mention that we might not be doing a day like this again for some while. Much to my surprise, Emma says that she has been thinking about eventual parenthood and hopes that she will be a parent just like me. I am deeply moved by this comment - perhaps the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Back home we watch several episodes of ER together!
So really quite a normal day for the two of us. The sort of day we have had many times before - perhaps hundreds of times. Yet today is the last one of this type. If things go well for her, Emma will never live at home again. The end of an era . . .
All this only really occurs to me as I am lying in bed later. I got up and wandered down to see Emma and perhaps tell her what I was thinking, but she was busy with something and didn't want to be disturbed, so I left her to it and didn't tell her what I was thinking. A very sad end to the day and one that has left me feeling really bad that I didn't see more of my Dad when I still could have. It would have meant a great deal to him if I had "found the time". That I didn't is now a cause of much distress for me. And, as usual, a distress that I haven't shared with anyone else - just keep it inside myself