Saturday, 16 February 2013

On A Train


Friday 15th February, Virgin Pendolino

There are times when it's lovely to be needed, and times when it's lovely not to be. As I head south on my train this morning, from grey northern skies to southern blue, I can't help feeling both pleased to be free but sad that, one daughter at least, drifts ever further from my side.

Not so long ago, on a journey such as this, I would reflect on the little chicks I'd left behind and know their movements, their habits, their needs. These days I simply stand and watch as they make ever more adventurous forays into the outside world. Driving to the school bus this morning, I watched my eldest, out of the corner of my eye, applying mascara in the vanity mirror, overnight bag by her feet. Tonight she will be at another's house, a group of young teenagers, wired to sights, sounds and conversations that I can only guess at. Boys will feature that's for sure. The fragile boundary between childhood and adulthood, one foot in both camps.

Meanwhile, the middle child will be home on the school bus with her friend, laughing conspiratorily in anticipation of a long-awaited sleepover, 'Friends' dvds, hot chocolate and onesies.

And then there's my littlest; the delicate creature with a core of steel, the freckled nose and the mischievous eyes. She will be heading for her dance class, her pony-tail swinging, a little reluctance now entering her previously enthusiastic step. A child on the  threshold of a turning point. The point when the mother loses her little chicks for ever. The point where acceptance is required that these vulnerable and dependent young lives start to take their own reins; where horizons broaden and the possibilities are endless. The line between your wisdom and experience, and their innocence, becomes blurred. They are growing up and striking out, defining themselves, while you are left wondering who you really are, what you've really done with your life and what to do with the remaining years. 

Motherhood can sometimes be a very lonely place. When they are young you feel isolated by their dependence, and when they become less dependent you suddenly are aware of the emptiness they leave behind.

But right now I have an afternoon by myself in London. I have one fixed appointment to meet an old university friend (we've not seen each other in nigh on twenty years) at 5.30pm, but until then, I haven't a clue. I shall simply make it up as I go along, as, on reflection, I have done my entire life.

6 comments:

Nutty Gnome said...

Don't worry too much Carah, my experience is that they never drift very far because they are tethered to us by elastic and ping back at regular intervals!
Their needs become different as they grow up, but they still seek out the emotional support, reassurance and wise words that only a mum can give.

It is our job as parents to ensure that they can fly solo - that they can behave morally, know right from wrong, make sound decisions, care about and respect others and be able to cook, clean, budget, change lightbulbs, wire plugs and use power tools safely!If they can do all that, then we can be proud of our works of heart!

The anxiety and desire to keep them safe never goes, but the levels vary.First-Born is almost 23 now and has recently aquired her first car (WHAAAH!). I nearly bit my nails to the knuckles on Monday as she tackled the M1 for the first time - only Jnc 26 to Jnc 29, but an endless hell on earth for me until she drove up our drive! However, the joy of having her home and the lengthy in-depth conversations we had more than made up up for my terror about her on the M1.

Both my girls may be away from home now - working in Nottingham and at uni in Derby, and I miss them so much at times that it physically hurts, but I am so proud of the people they have become, of the close relationships that we still have and that they love,trust and value my input into their lives.

It is different now and I have struggled since Last-Born left in September, but a new part of my life is begining and I have now chosen to be excited by what is to come, rather than to weep and sigh over what has already gone.

The bike shed said...

There is a visceral conflict as our children grow older - a desperate yearning to hold on to them, and yet the knowledge that we must let them go. I think that feeling is what most inspires me to write.

Catharine Withenay said...

What a beautiful post - expressing so much of the conflict I feel too! I trust you enjoyed your day in London - I'm most envious. But then, I'm still trapped with the responsibilities of childcare, longing for that day of release...

Catharine Withenay said...

What a beautiful post - expressing so much of the conflict I feel too! I trust you enjoyed your day in London - I'm most envious. But then, I'm still trapped with the responsibilities of childcare, longing for that day of release...

HER ON THE HILL said...

Nutty, thank you so much for such a heartfelt and considered response. I really value your words of experience and wisdom.

Mark and Catherine, thank you so much too for such personal responses. We are all at different stages in the journey, but the destination is the same :-).

HER ON THE HILL said...

Nutty, thank you so much for such a heartfelt and considered response. I really value your words of experience and wisdom.

Mark and Catherine, thank you so much too for such personal responses. We are all at different stages in the journey, but the destination is the same :-).

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