MY ELDEST daughter is away on her first school trip and it’s horrible. I cried as she went into school and by the time I waved her coach off I was sobbing and shouting that she ‘didn’t have to go if she didn’t want to’.

She said, quietly, through clenched teeth: “Mum, I really want to. Go home. Please.’

I tell my kids to grow up all the time.

I tell them to hurry up and stop messing around.

I snatch toys from them and tell them to get on with the task in hand. I tell them there is no time for their nonsense.

I tell them to pack it in, knock it off, sort it out.

Then they go on a school trip, tugging a suitcase bigger than they are behind them, and don’t look back once and I realise I’m not ready. I’m not ready for her to be fine being away from home for five days.

I’m not ready for her to pack it in and sort it out.

I’ve realised I need to sniff her head at least twice a day to be able to eat my dinner. I need her little laugh.

There is a tiny, selfish part of me that likes it when she cries, because then I get to kiss and cuddle her.

She still lets me then. At times like that, when only mummy will do, I get to be wonder woman briefly and make it all better.

I’m sleeping in her bed, which shows how pathetic I am.

I even tried putting her dressing gown on the other day.

I eat cereal from her bowl and drink from her tiny hedgehog mug.

She’s only 45 minutes up the road, for five days.

This will come as no surprise to anyone. I know I need to get a life.

I’ve planned a party for when she gets home which she won’t want and won’t enjoy because she’ll be grumpy and tired and coming down from a high.

I’ll want to know what she ate and how often she brushed her teeth.

She’ll be cross with me and I won’t be able to find the words to tell her that I just really missed her.

It will come out as “none of these clean socks have been worn” or “You didn’t write in your diary once.”

The husband will mostly ask her about boys.

If they came to her cabin. If they tried to hold her hand round the campfire. If she remembered the arm bar technique, he taught her.

Her sisters will want to know if she ate all the sweets we packed for her. We will end up shouting and I will sleep properly for the first time in a week.

I know it’s only going to get harder.

She’s going to leave home one day, go travelling, move to a university somewhere.

I can’t think about that right now though. This is hard enough.

I’m so preoccupied probing the missing tooth that is my daughter’s absence, I forgot the tins for the harvest festival.

The middle one was very worried she was going to get in to trouble for turning up empty-handed.

I don’t think anyone is going to lament the loss of the out of date chick peas I’d dug out the cupboard, but she demanded I run home and get them.

My middle daughter is on a course about her anxiety and as part of it she is preparing to go to a pumpkin painting party on her own.

It’s only for two hours but she’s terrified and I don’t know if she will be able to handle her school trip when it comes.

This makes me even sadder than the eldest skipping off.

She lies awake at night, planning for the next day and what might go wrong.

When she finally gives in to sleep, she grinds her teeth and her hands make fists.

The little one snorts and giggles in happy slumber next to her, and I wonder how three children can be so different when I’ve treated them all the same.

What’s it they say we need to give our children?

Something about roots to ground them and wings to fly.

I don’t know if these are things we can provide.

Some of us will never fly and some of us will never feel rooted to the ground, although not through lack of trying.

I’m taking the middle one out late-night shopping to get a Halloween outfit.

She wants to get a special welcome home present for the eldest one.

The youngest one just wants to do cartwheels and the splits and play with her toy octopus, making us late.

I need to remember to stop telling her to hurry up.

She can take all of the time she wants.