As minutes, hours and days go by we barely notice life changing, until one day we see a child of ours and we are winded. It can seem as if over night the years passed us by and in that moment we see our little ones as others do, no longer as little as we imagined them to be only hours before.
I am at the stage in life I once dreamed of. My children no longer make constant demands on me, and my role has become more of an adviser rather than director or even dictator. I rarely hear myself shout and our times together are filled with proper conversations and lots of laughter, usually at each others expense.
This is the summer I thought would never happen when I was exhausted with small children and lost in a life all about them. For years time seemed to stand still. My children went to school and those early years of education seemed to last an eternity. Eventually they moved on to secondary school and as I blinked, three of them have finished, and college has called them. Come September I’ll be the mother of one.
This past week has been like a dress rehearsal for my future life. My eldest and youngest are abroad, so at one stage last Friday night my husband and I found ourselves alone in the house. Did you hear me correctly there? I said we were ALONE, not a child in sight. It was the strangest feeling, as neither of us can remember the last time we were alone together in our own home. I know it only lasted a few hours but it has made me think.
Time is marching on. I will cling on to mothering for as long as I can, until the inevitable happens and I reach the day my children move on permanently. It’s sad to think of it, but after this weekend I’ve realised there is a flip side to this. A side I could not see because I had no memory of it. A side of life I’ve forgotten ever existed, one in which it was just myself and himself, not parents, not partners, just two individuals who have shared a friendship over thirty years. We may only have had a few hours alone, but it was enough to remind me of a time, many moons ago, when each other’s company was more than enough.
Over the past number of years I have witnessed a whole host of endings. Last days breastfeeding, the final sleep in a cot, no more buggies. We have attended final school plays, graduations from playschool and primary school. In more recent years we’ve seen our older children sit the Leaving Cert and make the decision to leave home for college. Each ending has left me feeling like I am travelling on a train moving far too quickly for my liking. Each occasion moving me closer to a life I’d often imagined and sometimes dreaded, a life without my children in it. A life in which I’d no longer be their world where they found new adventures and in time hopefully new love and independence.
However this week has woken me up to a fresh way of thinking. For now I see there is a light shining brightly at the end of what used to be a long dark parenting tunnel. It’s closer than I ever could have imagined and on the other side is a new life. A life all about me and him and us. and if truth be known it doesn’t look half bad.
Bring it on.