Susanna Reid, 49, has just embarked on a milestone parents dread – their children flying the nest and heading off to university. And the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t help settle her fears, only adding pressure to a day that was making a speedy arrival.
The Good Morning Britain anchor is mum to three boys, 18-year-old Sam, 16-year-old Finn and 15-year-old Jack.
In her latest column, she admitted the sheer thought of her eldest not being around anymore woke her up in the middle of the night.
“On Monday morning I woke up at 3am in a panic, having been in denial until precisely that point about the fact my eldest son is leaving home,” she wrote.
She noted that the weekend (19 September) was the big day, but the thought of returning home without him was too much to bear.
“I’m dreading the moment when I get back from dropping him off at university for the first time, and I have to set one less place at the dinner table,” she said, before revealing she had cooked his favourite meals for one last time the week before.
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“There was the misery of exam results and trying to get him to the place he wanted; the ongoing uncertainty over whether he’d be allowed to move into halls,” she said.
“The daily changing rules about gatherings that mean as a family we can’t even get a few relatives together to send him off.”
And to make matters worse, the on-going social distancing measures meant that she wouldn’t have been allowed to help him move in properly, as university halls try to cut down on unnecessary numbers entering the buildings at one time due to restrictions, something Susanna admitted she was “disappointed” about.
While they would have had to say their goodbyes on the pavement, the telly star did relish the moments they spent together preparing for the milestone.
“I felt like the font of all wisdom — a rare treat for a mum — as I passed on tips about comparing prices, and finding extended use-by dates by reaching to the back of the shelf,” she mused, recalling lectures about weekly food shops and general household chores.
But all students heading to university this year are acutely aware life won’t be the same as previous years.
Even Susanna confessed she wished her son would get the full under-grad experience, saying she was “angsty” about how much he was going to miss out on.
“Freshers’ week won’t be like mine — an alcohol-fuelled haze of joining clubs (Entrepreneurs’ Society? What was I thinking?) that I had no intention of attending after the free beer ran out,” she reminisced on her Bristol University days, where she studied politics.
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“He’ll have an online-only ‘Welcome Week’ and no clubs at all, thanks to the new rule of six.
“Students will also be ‘bubbled’ by subject within halls of residence, so they’re less likely to make friends outside of their course.”
She feared that he and his peers are starting some of the best years of their lives at a “disadvantage”, but chuckled at the fact Sam had brushed off her concerns.
“After the past six months, he’s just happy to be going to university at all,” she penned.