How my son’s trip abroad has taught me to let him go

BP is 13 years old and is going to France in a few days. I am terrified. He has been away from home before, he went to the Isle of Wight a few years ago with school but this time it feels different. He’s travelling with school to a different country, they’ll be taking a ferry across the Channel and he’ll be in a country that speaks a foreign language. As a mum the thought of my eldest child being somewhere I have never been, in situations I have never experienced, sends terror through my body. 

What if something happens?
What if he needs me?
What if…

That question scares the life out of me.

The stupid thing is I know I have to let him go, I know he’s growing up and spending more and more time away from home. He likes to go out with his friends, he likes to go out in the dark, he likes to be places I am not. It’s all just a part of growing up, I know this. But it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with.

The biggest scary thought in my head is that he’ll be travelling on a coach, along with many of his friends and teachers, through France and Belgium. There are so many things that could go wrong.

But I have to put that out of my mind because, let’s be honest, if I let that thought in there is no way he would go on that trip. I wouldn’t let him, or his brother, out of the house ever again. 

So how do I cope with it?

I distract myself.

I have spent some time getting BP’s things together, I’ve got a list (obvs.) and I’ve been going through the list to make sure we have everything he’ll need. I have concentrated on making sure he has a good time at the same time as staying safe. 

The Hubby and I have spoken to him about being safe, about staying with his friends, about wearing a seatbelt on the coach. As a parent there is only so much you can do when you’re not going to be with them. 

On Wednesday, when he leaves, I’ll be a wreck. I’ll worry constantly, but I do intend distracting myself a lot of the time. 

black and white photograph of a white iPad sitting on top of a MacBook Air. The black keys of the keyboard can be seen in the top left corner and a white Apple Pencil is sitting across the keyboard.
Or maybe I'll play games on the iPad...

I will be working - writing, crafting, cooking, anything that will take my mind off the fact that BP is in a different country. 

You are always their mum

I know it’s not like BP is in his twenties and he is old enough to look after himself but I’m starting to realise that no matter what age he is I will always worry about him. I will always be his mum and be concerned for his safety.

A 13 year old boy climbs up a rope ladder. His hands cling to the green rope, his knuckles white. His shoes bend as he steps onto the rope. A red rope connected to his harness keeps him from falling. He also wears a green helmet. The sky behind him is dotted with fluffy white clouds.

That’s the thing isn’t it?

You never stop being their mum. Yes, BP is 13 and still needs me to nag him to brush his teeth but it won’t be long before he is off at university or trying to buy his first home and then what? 

You have to let them live don’t you.

You have to let them make mistakes. You have to let them grow without your guidance. You have to watch them struggle and fight to make their way through life. Because if you don’t, if you’re there all the time making sure they are safe and secure, what is that teaching them?


They will never make it through life without you if you’re always there. They will never strive to be better because you’ve always helped them. They will never become their own person because you’ve always been there.

You have to let them live and grow.

As scared as I am to let BP go on this trip I know I have to do it. I know it will do us both good. He will learn about being away from home and, hopefully, will get a bit more independence. I will learn that he is a growing boy (who is now taller than me!) and needs his independence. 

A thirteen year old boy stands on top of a climbing frame high in the air. He is holding onto a rope on the left and reaching out with his right hand to the other side. He is wearing a green helmet and the rope connected to his harness keeps him from falling.

I hate it. I hate letting him go like this. But I also know it’s necessary.

And I will do what I must to be a good mum.

My parents taught me to never give up and to always believe that my future could be whatever I dreamt it to be. 

Susana Martinez

How do you cope when your children want that independence?

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