I’ve spent some time pondering two things since our family started boarding in 2017, will I ever get used to them being away from home and will my name tag sewing skills ever improve? While I am still not used to my children being away from me, I can say I am better at it, the sewing skills remain dubious.

We have two boys boarding at Aquinas and one eager future Aquinian at home, which for us lies an hour’s drive north of Geraldton in Ogilvie. We’re broadacre farmers, have a handful of cows and a few ‘pet’ sheep. We are a close-knit family, farming with my Brother and Sister-in-law, who have three girls and started their boarding journey with Santa Maria this year.

Many people ask what it is like to have your children away at school, the best way I can explain it is, uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable, but what makes this subside is hearing your child on the end of the phone when they’re loving life with their friends, the opportunities they’re experiencing and the connections they make with their boarding family. And it’s not just the kids who get to broaden their horizons. We've met amazing people through the College and ticked off a bucket list item, travelling the Gibb River Road, with two of our boarding families last year. This is the comfort.

When my children started primary school, a departing parent encouraged us to linger - we focus on settling our children but forget to settle ourselves. This is what I have found helps at drop-offs, the boys shoot off to their friends and stories of EXEAT and holidays, but I’m not quite ready to go. So, I linger, that’s when I see the happiness on their faces and their interactions with their house ‘Dad’ or house ‘Mum’ and it makes it that bit easier to get in the car and drive home without them.

I’ve always loved and believed in the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child”. We are so lucky to have our boarding and school community as part of our village. The most endearing thing we find in our Aquinian village is the culture. Simple things that build the boys into the men they will be. I love the way the boys spend much of their school life bemoaning Sunday night chapel but then return as Old Boys, sneaking in the back on the odd occasion to find some solace and re-grounding. Aquinas is a forever place.

There have been the best of times and the worst of times and navigating them from a distance was, at first, very overwhelming, but we have complete faith in the people who share in raising our children. We appreciate the times they tell them something they don’t want to hear, encourage them to have faith in their potential, pat them on the back when they deserve it and remind us, as parents, to go a little easier at times.

On our first drive down to Aquinas, I sat and read aloud the boarding handbook. The kids sat in the back laughing as I cried intermittently and tried to read through it. Three years on I still cry, much to the amusement of my boys. I was once told boarding isn’t about you, it’s about your child, I’m not sure I agree, it’s about us. So, I cry, and they laugh but know they secretly love knowing they are missed.

Trinita Suckling, Boarding Mum