The birth of my son was like someone laid a compass over my life.
The needle was aligned and the path clear – I couldn’t have done anything but follow that North needle had I tried. I couldn’t step off or slide out from underneath – it was set.

I have enjoyed knowing the direction I had to sail I have been a captain with a clear chart and reasonable good weather. However the needle has become finer and the direction not so clear – other things have started to influence it’s bearing. I have to be so quiet and steady to be sure that the bearing is still true.

The first mate is better at holding the course – he is young with clear eyesight and an eye for this ship. His confidence is growing and he is beginning to challenge my course. It is too narrow on this needle for us both to read it well but if I step off I have no idea where I head – there is no needle for myself so I stay teetering on the edge alongside him. I am not quite ready to trust myself leaving, or him alone, so we balance it out together for a while – this young man sets a course he seems to know is his and I feel I am on a gyroscope in stormy seas.

I hand over the captaincy to him on the day before his 16th birthday. He is capable and confident. He pulls into port and lets me off – I step aground – it feels like a long time since my feet were on firm ground, I have no compass but the fixed stars that bedeck the sky.

He sets sail and leaves the protective harbour of my arms – headed for the open seas with a clear heart, a steady head and spirit of adventure. It is good to see him leave and to stop a while and rest against the trees.