It’s been a strange week. The reality of three children leaving home at the same time is dawning. It’s not all bad I can assure you. I’m already beginning to take more than a little delight in the quietness, lack of laundry, the joy of no ‘stuff’ strewn about the hall and the amount of time available for ‘Me’.
With just one young lady left at home, life is indeed ‘different’. While she who remains, is doing her best on a daily basis to keep up the volume of ‘stuff’ about the place, she is only one person, so will never quite reach her combined siblings low standards. While I’m slowly adjusting to the tidier, quieter house, I’m having great difficulty with meals. Each day I make dinner it is as if I’ve forgotten I’m cooking for three not six. As dinner time approaches I look at the overflowing saucepan of pasta, potatoes or rice, in despair. How can I get it wrong so often? Maybe that’s what mothers do? Prepare every day for the return of their missing children? If mine do return unexpectedly, I hope they’ll arrive around six o clock in the evening.
As the days have passed I’ve found myself forgetting, on occasions, that they are gone. I wait for them to get up, or to return home from work. I stop myself as I’m about to shout for one of them and sometimes when I return clean laundry to their room, I take a moment to sit on their bed and miss them.
A couple of years ago I wrote a post called, ‘When the last door closes.’ It was about the night I went to bed and noticed my youngest child had closed her door for the first time ever, denying me a final look at her sleeping, before I went to bed. I remember that night clearly and now, over a year later I still dislike going to bed seeing all bedroom doors closed. Yet it was not a closed door that inspired this post, but an open one. For last night as I climbed the stairs, I saw the door of one of my missing daughters bedrooms, wide open. The room inside tidy and dark and very definitely empty. I couldn’t close that door quick enough.
The memory of that empty room stayed with me all day. I’m not overly lonely, but I do feel like a redundant parent of grown up children. As I prepared dinner (another huge one) I heard myself singing, ‘Slipping through my fingers’ by ABBA.
“Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake I let precious time go by
Then when she’s gone, there’s that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can’t deny
What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did, but most we didn’t
And why, I just don’t know ”
The words cut through me and even though I’ve had a lifetime of great fun with my gang, it’s impossible not to feel regrets…for the little things I never did with them, the places I never took them and the times I didn’t appreciate small, magic moments.
Hearing that song always reminds me of one such magic moment. The musical, Mamma Mia, was out in cinemas and one afternoon I brought my four and the two ladies I minded to see it. We were all enjoying it when the time came for, ‘that song’ to come on. For a moment, sitting there, surrounded by my gang of little ones I felt so proud and privileged to have been their mum, and minder. As I watched Meryl Streep put nail varnish on her soon to be married daughter, I became her. I could imagine clearly the day those ‘little ones’ sitting beside me were no longer in my everyday life. They were’slipping through my fingers’ and being the big eejit I am I couldn’t stop my tears. My gang had eagerly anticipated this song, knowing it meant so much to me and nodded their heads, whispering and nudging each other, “Yep, she’s crying.” As they sniggered, I felt a small hand from the little one sitting beside me slip into mine. As the song continued, we sat there hand in hand and I wished that song would never end.
But it did, and time since has slipped by on a daily basis, bringing days, months and even years, when the one word I’d have chosen to describe my life as a mother, would have been from a list including the words, exhausting, challenging, lonely, frustrating, boring or trying. Now I know I too am aging. For I have joined those annoying older parents who say, “enjoy them while they are young.” I’ll never be quite so stupid as to say it aloud, as I haven’t completely forgotten how hard it all was, but tonight as I pass closed doors and empty rooms I will for a moment put on my rose tinted glasses and search for one word to describe the past twenty five years of mothering. It wont take long for it jumps out at me. It’s been FUN. Time has done it’s best to erase the bad memories and despite the changing world of mothering I’m living in, I have no doubt the fun in this house is far from over.
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Lessons children teach us
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