Just over three months ago, my daughter found herself a job. For the last four years – since leaving university, in fact – she had been looking for employment. Every day she would go through the same routine: winnowing the job alerts she had received in her email; logging onto the employment websites to see what was new. Every day she would apply for 10 jobs that she thought she could do. Ideally she wanted a job that reflected her skills and education; but, being realistic, she would also apply for other jobs. She would upload her CV, fill in the forms, push the ‘SUBMIT’ button, then wait.
Sometimes she would receive a reply thanking her for her application. Less often she would get an invitation for an interview. However, most of the time she was ignored. She would send off her details, then hear nothing more about it. It was a disheartening time for both of us. When COVID restrictions were brought in last year, the number of jobs available fell dramatically. Firms were not hiring new starters. Instead they were hunkering down and trying to weather the oncoming storm. But my daughter kept checking the internet, looking for work.
But, all things pass. As the COVID restrictions were lifted (we can debate the wisdom), the job market picked up again. My daughter sent off more applications and got offers of job interviews. Then, one day, while tapping away on my laptop, she called me.
I couldn’t read the tone of her voice over the tiny speaker, but it sounded like something important had happened. “What?” I asked her.
“I’ve got a job!”
My heart leapt. That night, the two of us had a small celebration. We ordered in pizza and toasted my daughter’s good fortune: me with a tumbler of whiskey, her with a bottle of milkshake. For the first time in months we felt good about the future.
And then reality hit. We had to get used to different arrangements. Mealtimes became fragmented. The house became too quiet during the day. We would maybe speak to each other for a quarter of an hour in the morning, then for an hour or so in the evening. It was very different from when we would go out for walks together in the afternoon, strolling along the path by the railway for our daily exercise. But we adjusted and established new habits.
Then, last week my daughter came to me. “Dad,” she asked. “How much are our household bills?”
“We’ve already discussed that,” I replied. “I’ve set your contribution.”
My daughter gave me that look that only children can give to their parents. “No, dad. How much do things cost?”
I took a deep breath. “Why?” But I knew the answer already. In the past we had both discussed the time when my daughter would eventually move out and become an independent adult. But that had been at some indeterminate time in the future. This conversation turned it from a possibility to an actuality.
I won’t pretend that I don’t have mixed feelings. In some ways I feel nervous, worried about the uncertainty of the future. In other ways I feel proud that my child has become her own person, confident enough to strike out on her own.
I’ll miss her. And she’ll miss me. But we’ll adjust.
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.
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