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Your great new life is about to start but your nagging mum won't change...

Dear Catherine (and all frantic Leaving Cert students everywhere),

I can hardly believe that 'results' day has finally arrived.

Is it really six years since you headed off on your first day to secondary school in that green and blue tartan skirt that was down to your ankles because your mother was determined it would last you until Junior Cert?

And is it only 11 months since we had our 'summit meeting' about the Leaving Cert? Do you remember we agreed rules and set out objectives for what was billed as "the most important year of your life"? You were going to knuckle down and study and go out less and I was not going to be the nagging mum.

Not sure either of us kept to the rules. But sure that would have made life very boring around here, wouldn't it?

Remember the rows about staying out too late and the amount of time you spent on Facebook? And how stressed out you (and we) got over the last year about study and the points race and the college course you wanted and what would happen if it was out of your reach?

And all of us trying to ignore the talk in the media about the bleak prospects for school leavers because of the economy and the shortage of college places. And then the occasional headlines saying 'students feeling extra stress'.

Yeah, we were happy sometimes that you spent more time on Facebook than reading the newspapers.

As I write this, with about 14 hours to go before you get your results, the television news in the background has an item with a group of Leaving Cert students admitting to nightmares and nerves ahead of today.

Myself and Dad are killed from telling you that really, when all is said and done, the Leaving Cert is not the be all and end all. You have a slightly different take on it: "It is -- if I don't get the course I want in college."

You have made it clear you don't want Dad and I to go to the school with you to collect the results. But I have got a firm promise that your phone will be charged, credit topped up, and we will be the first people you ring with your news.

Catherine, it is impossible for me to fully appreciate the range of emotions you are going through right now. But take it from me -- the results are NOT the be all and end all.

Given the hard work you put in this year, of course we truly wish that you get your just desserts, and the points you need.

And, yes, your results will certainly help influence what you do with your career -- but they are NOT the most important thing. What is far more important is that you are going out now to make your way in the world. Your exciting journey really starts today.



fulfilling

This journey will be fun, fulfilling, and sometimes challenging -- no matter what college course you are offered, or even if you go to college at all.

It's a new chapter in your life and one we hope you embrace with gusto.

The good news is you will never face an exam like the Leaving Cert again -- not even college exams will be as stressful.

It is 30 years since my dreaded Leaving Cert results day and since I started out on my journey. And I wouldn't change a day of the past 30 years.

The best of luck today Catherine, (and to Leaving Certers everywhere). You outgrew that tartan school skirt and we are proud of the lovely young woman that has emerged.

Now the real issue here is tonight's celebration (or commiseration). Ok, you are nearly 19, the Leaving Cert results are out, and you deserve a blast. But don't forget your key, don't lose your phone, don't get a taxi home on your own, and behave yourself.

Yes, Catherine -- Leaving Certs come and go. Your great new life is about to start -- but sorry to say nagging mothers never change!

Lots of love

Mum