The Wings to Fly

Dear Tom

I am pleased to be able to confirm in writing our offer of employment…

I’ve said many times on this blog that parents go through ‘rite of passage’ moments every bit as much as their children. Your wife shows you a stick with two blue lines on it. You hold your son’s hand and take him to nursery. Thirteen years later he rolls through the front door and throws up on your carpet…

Four years ago we dropped Tom off at university. This morning he e-mailed me – with an attachment from a Formula One team.

I ran down the letter. Starting salary … not bad, more than a junior doctor. Benefits … pension scheme, cycle to work scheme, complementary healthcare. Blimey, not bad at all.

And a car lease scheme after six months. What? Christmas 2017 and he could be driving a better car than me? Huh. Insert jealous face…

Thirty days holiday including public holidays. So – quick maths – just over four weeks, two of which he’ll have to take in the summer. So maybe he will turn up for Christmas in a better car than his Dad – but he won’t be staying for long.

That’s when the rite of passage hit me. Tom will be home this Easter: but only for a week. Come the summer he’s going traveling. Then he starts work. Real work – and real work means short holidays and fleeting visits to Mum and Dad.

How do I feel about this? I feel immensely proud. He wandered downstairs when he was 12 or 13 and announced he wanted to work in F1.

“Doing what?”

“I want to do aerodynamics.”

“OK, that’s good,” I said, and scuttled off to see what ‘aerodynamics’ really was.

And he’s never wavered from that commitment. School, university, work experience, and now – a job offer. So of course I’m proud. Beyond proud.

But I’m slightly sad as well.

He’s my son. I love him. I love him beyond all human measure.

I remember the nurse handing him to me. I looked down at my little boy and I started to tingle. The feeling washed over me. I was drenched with love. Stronger, fiercer, more protective than anything I’d ever known. Than anything I’d ever imagined.

(I’m sorry, there was a long pause there. I seemed to have something in my eye.)

And now I’m going to see a lot less of him.

Your children are at school. They’re with you all through the holidays. They go on to university. Blimey, the holidays are even longer. No, we haven’t seen much of Tom these last three summers – but mid-December to mid-January has been fine. Apart from the terminal damage to the wine rack…

Suddenly, that’s all going to change.

“Are you coming up for Christmas, Tom?”

“Yeah, I think so. Christmas Eve, probably. But I’ll need to go back on Boxing Day. Working the next day.”

And that’ll be it until Easter. Or until we go down for the weekend.

It’s going to take some getting used to.

Eldest son at uni sent me a copy of first full time job offer, I tweeted. So proud of him. But part of me a little bit sad.

Don’t be, a virtual pal replied. You’ve given him the wings to fly.

She’s right. Of course she is. 22 years old and Tom has the wings to fly as high and as far as he wants.

I couldn’t have asked for more when I first held my son: when I cried tears of joy. I’ll just have to live with the other tear that rolls down my cheek on Boxing Day…

Thanks for reading this post. If you enjoyed it – and you’d like something light and funny to read – you can buy the ‘Best Dad I Can Be’ sample book with 27 of my favourite posts covering all the years I’ve been writing: it’s all of 99p on your Kindle. Alternatively the first chronological book, ‘Half Dad Half Fish’ which covers the time when the children were 9, 7 and 4 is available here


  1. This is such a lovely post. It’s no wonder you’re proud. Tom has done extremely well and has found his path in life, and isn’t that what all good parents want. It’s sad yes, because its the end of an era and the beginning of another.
    Congratulations to you all. 🙂

    • Thanks, Victoria – have I said happy new year to you? And you’re so right: we couldn’t have asked for any more but it does feel like the end of an era. Ah well, on to the next worry – selling a kidney to get him on the housing ladder…

  2. That is amazing! What an achievement for him. I love his total commitment and that he’s stuck with it for all these years. I’m really hoping my son will change his mind about his current career choice – mountain guide in the Himalayas!
    I can totally understand why you’re feeling sad though – it’s a huge change. But parents are always very good at adapting and changing with their kids!

    • Mountain guide? That’s the ultimate glass half full/empty one isn’t it? You won’t see much of him: then again it’s pretty difficult to send dirty washing home from Everest base camp… And Tom – I think the sadness comes from the finality of it: goodness knows how I’ll feel when Ben gets a job offer…

  3. So much to be proud of, Mark – Tom’s going to be doing something he loves that he has always wanted. There aren’t many of us parents who can truly say that about ourselves, so for one of our children to achieve it is fantastic. And perhaps the shorter Christmas visits will be offset by (a) the income and (b) the guilt to buy his parents better presents … 🙂

    • Thanks, Tim – might be offset by him turning up with some wine! Seriously, there are lots of “what advice would you give” questions flying around parent blogging. That’s mine: when you absolutely see the light of conviction in your child’s eyes you have just one job – to do everything you can to help make it happen. Ah, but they just become great company over the wine and cheese and they’re off. Sigh…

  4. Loved reading that! These amazing, frustrating, confusing people we bring into the world can challange and worry us one moment and then make us so proud the next, well done u! (and of course Tom).

    • Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment, Robyn. And you’re absolutely right. No-one can prepare you for how much you’ll love your kids, and no-one can prepare you for the emotional journey either! If only I could experience the emotion of a tidy bedroom…

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