Riding in the car to IKEA with Zannah – who is moving out to share a flat with a friend – we talk about how she and her friends are doing. At almost 25 she is finding that her friendship group is dividing into those who are moving on to shouldering adult responsibilities and relishing this and those who are finding it much more difficult to shed behaviour and habits more associated with student years, like weekends disappearing in a haze of alcohol and drug taking. Unsurprisingly, it is mostly those with warm and supportive families behind them who are in the first group and those whose backgrounds have not given them the love and security they need in the latter.
Zannah was ‘smoking’ an electric cigarette as we drove. She had decided some months ago that 25 was the age to give up tobacco but apparently what motivated her to take action now was because I had spoken recently about how worried I was about her brother Peter’s addiction to nicotine because his ‘genetic father’ – my first husband – had died of lung cancer at 57 and both my parents died in their middle sixties of smoking related diseases. She said she didn’t want to put me through worry like that (we don’t know if her donor was a smoker and interestingly I don’t know if it is one of the questions that donors are asked). I really had no idea that I had so much influence now and I wonder how many other parents underestimate their role in their adult children’s lives. Zannah has always said that knowing she was wanted so much and loved unconditionally has made it possible for her to overcome difficult times in her life. Certainly she puts herself in the group of young people who are pleased to move on to the next part of their lives, still having lots of fun but also taking things much more seriously as well. We also talked about whether we would like to be buried or cremated and where we would like our remains to end up. As a young woman whose very closest friend was killed in a road accident at 19, she is not afraid to talk about death.
How do I feel about her moving out? Well, interestingly enough I’ll miss her more this time than when she left home for the first time six years ago. We needed time apart then. She’s been back for a year and it’s mostly been a delight, but she very naturally needs her independence and Walter and I will also enjoy having the house to ourselves again. This time she’ll be just fifteen minutes down the road so I’m looking forward to more lovely talks…but preferably no more large IKEA bills!