I hope you've enjoyed your summer?
Our house has been going through a lot of changes mostly to do with milestone anniversaries and birthdays plus offspring starting secondary school or preparing to fly the nest for University -
It can't be that time already?
The salt and pepper streaks in my hair say otherwise.
It's fine. And as it should be. But it occurred to me that our eldest is about to embark on her new life with everything to look forward to whereas suddenly mine feels very much behind me.
I find myself smiling with empathy at younger parents struggling to cope with pushchairs loaded to the hilt with essentials knowing it probably took Operation Desert Storm just to get out of the house. I listen to children screaming in supermarket trolleys as anxious mothers/fathers try to pacify and cajole them long enough to get through the checkout and recognise the glazed expression, the dishevelled clothes and the straggly hair as my own once upon a time. To be fair I am still capable of looking this way but that's by choice.
I have to tell you though, I'm loving this new found freedom from school runs. I haven't escaped entirely from taxi-service, not yet, but I can smell life beyond parenting for the first time in many years and it smells good. I've studied my husband's tired face and scrutinized the puffy-eyed dough-y-ness of my own trying to remember what we looked like before life got hold and shook us about. What we looked like and who we were. The before and after images bore no resemblance whatsoever to those elasticated nimble youths. In those odd moments when we've found ourselves alone and able to hold a conversation without the input of a third or fourth party has not been unlike two shell-shocked soldiers in tin hats raising their heads briefly above the parapet before sinking back down into the mire.
Don't get me wrong. We will never regret having children. They have brought us more joy and enriched our lives beyond imagination but let's be honest, they are Locusts. They swarm into your life and zap you physically, emotionally, mentally not forgetting financially, stripping you bare of any and all assets before swarming off again leaving you to sweep up the debris that was your life. What began as yours and mine soon becomes lost in the realms of 'Have you got any cash for the school trip, for guides, for this, for that, for anything!' You lose track of what you had in your purse and rejoice when you find a £1 coin at the bottom of your bag. (That actually happened yesterday and brought me close to tears of gratitude.)
I'm not going to go down the heartache or the worry road. It's part and parcel and in the contract. No, I never read the small print either. Probably for the best.
The biggest eye-opener has to be finally understanding what my own parents went through. I'm the third of four girls and our Mum has been bed-ridden with Alzheimer's for over five years now. In some respects I'm not surprised. She must have been exhausted with the constant back-chat, hormones, love-sick dramas, school reports, teenage angst and anything else we trailed in our sorry wake.
I hear their words coming out of my own mouth these days. I hear myself and can't quite believe that life has turned full circle. I also know my words are falling on deaf ears as they did on mine and no amount of; ' When you have children of your own...' will ever really resonate until they do have children of their own at which point I'll do what my Dad does now and laugh and laugh at the wondrous irony of it all.
One down, one to go. The odds are slowly coming back in our favour.
If there is such a thing as Karma I want you to know that if I haven't paid in full already, I must be getting pretty damned close.