Last night I sat on a bar stool next to my 19 year old daughter. We were both sipping vodka and coke. Another first, and a strange moment of calm during a very busy evening.
You see on top of the usual mid term madness with the two littlies, there was a knot in the pit of my stomach about Saturday night. Part of a whole tangle of knotted feelings which all relate to Angel's BIG PLAN for the summer. Together with three of her friends, she will be going to Tanzania to volunteer in an orphanage for a month. The trip is organised by a charity, and the girls have to pay to take part. A major fundraising drive would be needed.
I didn't believe her when she first said it. Then I started to panic: my baby girl going to Africa! Somewhere I've never been and I don't know much about it. All kinds of unwelcome thoughts began to set up home in my head: the chances of catching obscure tropical diseases, flying on dodgy airlines, and plenty of other half-formed fears I dare not even put into words.
But once the girls signed up and paid the deposit, I had no choice but to be supportive and - as I found out - to button my lip. You see my girl knows her own mind. So I've had to wait to be asked for advice. Which has happened occasionally. And I've also been asked for spot prizes, lifts and other Mammy stuff. But with months to go, the girls are already half-way to their target. They're raised thousands of euros through church gate collections, a ferocious amount of bag packing - something I hate doing - and last night, a pub quiz.
I was worried about this too. How would it go? Would anyone turn up? Would they raise enough money? I so wanted it to be a success for her and I was far more nervous than she was.
But I should have had more confidence in her abilities, and those of her friends. It was held in the upstairs room of a lovely old city pub - with its own bar. A friendly drama student was persuaded to do MC, and he was so good that he had two more gig offers before the evening finished. The questions were varied and none of the tables found them too hard or too easy. Oh and one of my teams came third and the other won a pile of raffle prizes - so my friends went home happy :D At the time of writing the quiz organisers are still fast asleep, but I'm pretty sure that last night's efforts made another big contribution to their fund-raising campaign.
Sitting on the bar stool with her took me back, a long way back. To those carefree days before Smiley was born, when I used to take her to the pub for Sunday lunch, when her Dad was working. Just the two of us, sitting and chatting. Last night it was the same, but different. I realised it. Angel really is grown up. She's clever, she's well organised, she's competent and she's professional. She also has a great bunch of friends, and she's going to be just fine, no matter where she goes.