When I first held that baby in my arms nearly 22 years ago, never in a million years could I have imagined the pride I felt today when I saw her in her cap and gown as she graduated from the Manchester Law School.
They tell you that motherhood is a series of “firsts” – the first time you perhaps change a nappy or bath a newborn, the first time your child cuts a tooth, or walks or crawls. Their first words, their first day at school. Their first skinned knee, or first fall-out with friends. The first time they stand up for themselves in front of bullies. Their first tests or exams. Their first time on holiday without you, their first hangover. Their first driving lesson, and the first time you realise that they have crossed a particular finishing line.
That finishing line for Emma was today when she became entitled to use the letters LLB after her name. When I first saw her in her robes today, I admit I cried. It didn’t seem like five minutes ago when my first burst of love for this child flowered in my heart, and the intervening years have seen that love – and yes I admit, pride – have blossomed and grown to the extent that I was overwhelmed by it today.
Like most young people, she has faced difficulties and hardships during the last five years of her education. Her health has had a bit of a battering and she has had to have four operations, meaning she has missed quite a bit of her A levels and her degree course. She has moved house three times in two years (not something I would have recommended if I had a choice!) and she has held down not only a part-time job at McDonald’s, but has progressed through the URNU to become a senior midshipman in the Royal Naval cadets too.
She has at times struggled with the workload at uni (who hasn’t?!) but she has always come through it with a smile on her face and a cheerful shrug of her shoulders.
So forgive me today for being ever so proud of her achievement. May I present to you my daughter, Emma Smith LLB.
She graduated today with her boyfriend Simon and her friend Gemma and I am proud of them also for their achievements today. I haven’t got any photos of Simon and Emma together just yet, but here’s my favourite one of Emma and Gemma together.
And so for the last “first” of this post. My baby girl will be waking up tomorrow on the first day of the rest of her life. And this proud Mama can’t wait to see what she makes of it.