Wednesday, October 01, 2008


"Your blogs are like buses. You don't write one for months" says Hubby, "and then they come in threes."

This is of course true. And like Meredic, it's not because I haven't had anything to write about, because I have, but more perhaps that my mind has been so full of thoughts that I just haven't been able to separate them out and put them into bloggy form. One of these prepossessing thoughts is the fact that time has just gone. It didn't ask permission. It just left me standing and rushed on ahead.

Now you understand, I do fully appreciate that I am not yet old really. But I want to know why the last ten years have travelled past at lightning speed, without much thought in the process to the fact that those years were indeed "travelling past at lightning speed", all of a sudden leaving me here in my mid and a little bit forties - with children starting to go off to university.

I mean, when I last looked, I had five children. Only three and a half years ago for instance, just before the yearly round of birthdays started (and the round lasts a while in our house), I had five children aged 4, 6, 10, 12 and 14. And now, suddenly I have an adult of 18 who has just left for university, a 16 year old in his final year of GCSE's, a fourteen year old starting her GCSE's, a 10 year old due to leave primary school in a few months and an 8 year old also heading speedily towards the top end of primary school.

So, more to the point.... where did the last three and a half years go, and why am I so relatively old all of a sudden?!!!

It was a big shock ED going to university. Parents are very strange creatures. We hope, dream and wish for our children to grow up and be successful, and then all of a sudden, when they do grow up, be successful and go off, you feel completely bereft.

No-one prepares you for that feeling of loss. No-one tells you when you are changing the nappies that one day you will actually look back nostalgically on changing nappies. At the time you are so immersed in the daily drudgery, that you get on, you cope and you survive day to day.

And then it stops.

And it's lonely. And sad. You want it all back.

It's not that you want even more children. You want the same ones, but you want to do it again, more slowly. You want to take your time. You want to savour the moment. You want to not tell them off when they throw flour, ketchup and mayonnaise around a neighbour's kitchen in an attempt to bake you a cake with ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Or at least, tell them off, but not feel so cross about it.... Or to not feel embarrassed because - just because your neighbour has been put out.

You want to capture all the little moments and put them in a box. and look at them from time to time and relive them. In fact I need a Harry Potter style "pensieve". JK is indeed a woman of fine taste.

And maybe, once or twice I would take the "pensieve" back to a day when ED was 6, ESOS was 4 and Sensible was 2. At the time we were living in Northern Ireland, and I used to teach drama in ED's school, just one morning a week. It took HUGE organisation that one morning....

One the particular day in mind, Hubby was away doing important stuff in England, and I was singlehandedly in charge of the brood. It was a chaotic morning... as it always has been in our house, for as long as I can remember. I finally got all organised and dressed and ready to leave the house at 8.30. Hubby ordinarily at that time was taking the children to school en route to work, leaving me, with Sensible to have a more leisurely start. Except of course on the "ONE DAY A WEEK" when I had to put in army style organisation to get out on time.....

So... when the stress levels had risen on this special "one day" to the levels that they rose to on the work day, ED, quite sensibly thought that it simply must be Mummy's work day. After all, Mummy was taking them to school and Mummy was stressed.

As we were leaving the house she suddenly turned back.

What NOW? I thought.

She came back out with my (quite big and heavy) basket, full of books that I used for teaching.

"Mummy, you've forgotten your basket" she said.

I looked at her, and I wanted to cry. I gave her a hug and explained that I wasn't working that day..."

And I saw her at that moment, not as the very grown up and eldest child, but as a very intelligent, but still very vulnerable and very young little girl. And even at that moment I knew that it was a memory that I wanted to savour forever.

I miss you ED.... but I do want you to grow up and have the best possible adult life imaginable..... So have a ball!


DL said...

Beautifully written! You're a real star!

john.g. said...


enidd said...

you made a childless person wistful for children she never had...

(and being childless and in your late forties, that's a wistful thing too. however much you didn't want the little terrors.)

headless chicken said...

Time certainly does fly Sally.
I will be sixty-ish by the time Carter leaves home but I bet it will seem like only yesterday that he was the little Mummy's boy he is now.
It's hard but you will get used to ED leaving home....I still miss Rosie terribly and Jake is not here more often than he is. As you know, I've just got the three youngest home full-time and Izzy, being eight, is more and more independent everyday.
Even when they are all adults they will still need you and they will still be your kids!
Don't be sad.x

Alice Band said...

Jesus Sal, you made me cry. Have you seen Mamma Mia? The bit where Meryl sings to her daughter? I saw it with my 13 year old and sobbed clutching her hand and the more she soothingly said, "It's ok mummy. I love you. We do do lots of things", the more I wailed.
I SO wish I wasn't so cross all the time. I'll never forget looking at my first baby in his shawl and thinking, 'I'll never ever shout at you'. It's a daily occurence however, fuelled by worry with him doing well in his exams, the girlfriend situation and everything else thrown in.
The American blogging women just seem to evangalise about being a mom and their perfect kids. Mine aren't, neither am I but I LOVE THEM SO MUCH!!!!

Sensible said...

MUM! that's full of CHEESE!!:D but still fabulous!:D love you xxxxxxxx

elena jane said...

ahh, that's lovely. and just right, to go back for a moment in time. you don't have the chance to enjoy it when it's insane. then suddenly, they're gone. i'm glad i have my five for a bit longer (and my oldest is 15)....let the craziness reign!! :)

Sally said...

Thanks DL
Not too much JG!
Aww Eniid....
HC - I know. It's not their growing up that I bemoan. Just that I didn't slow down a little bit more, a little bit earlier.
AB - Loved that bit in Mamma Mia and sobbed too! Tinkerbell Mushroom kept asking me why I was crying... It was so true and brought such a lump to the throat!!
Thank you Sensible!
EJ - Indeed. And enjoy those next three years. And make the most of every minute.... I shall try to make sure that I don't rush the next ten years!!

Alice Band said...

Sally - Check mine out, you may find it familiar...

Alice Band said...

I've just tried to email you but it was returned. Have you changed email addresses?

ChrisB said...

That is a wonderful post- it made me think back to when my girls left home. It won't be that long (another couple of years or so) and my eldest grandson will be finishing school and I know beccy is not looking forward to that happening!

Eloise said...

What a wonderful post! I can certainly relate as my oldest just turned 17 and will be off to college in a year and a half. I have no idea where the time went. The years when they were babies and toddlers seemed like they would last forever and then all of a sudden you blink and they're almost grown. Boo hoo.

Sally said...

Thank you Eloise and Chris!

Sally said...

Hi AB - Sent you an email about my email address!

Ignorminious said...

Awwww Sally! Tis at these times that you remember what a truly wonderful experience life actually is, don't you think?