It’s taken me almost a month to pluck up the courage to write again. I haven’t told anyone that I am writing this blog and I am not posting notices inviting anyone to ‘read it’ anywhere (yet) …. Destiny means different things to different people and I suppose that my ultimate destiny is really only important to me. Writing this blog is almost like writing a diary which is something that I have never done, as I have relied on memory, both mine and others to keep account so far. My children have been a huge part of this kaleidoscope of life and they have filled in the colours and textures in a hugely positive way. I am not a perfect human being and I did not receive an instruction manual with each birth. I cannot remember what my expectations were when they were born to me at the tender age of 23 and 26 years respectively and I sometimes still feel that I am not old enough to be the parent of these two wonderful people, but I am.
My children are adults now. They are as different as night and day, but share many traits including humour, kindness, a social conscience and an awareness of the wider world that lies beyond their doorstep. They became young adults in an economy that was booming and where money appeared to provide the answer to all problems as it could buy you everything that you wanted and needed to be happy.
When they were younger we had little money, and so didn’t do the things that others were doing like holidaying abroad, having a new car every year, shopping in New York, buying designer clothing, and re decorating the house like everyone else on the planet. We got by doing other things and generally enjoyed all that life threw at us. The bubble burst and we were left no worse off as we hadn’t gone mad and borrowed up to our tonsils… Our teen aged/ young adult kids “living at home with Mam & Dad” witnessed this economic downfall and were politically savvy enough to understand where it all went wrong and thankfully had not crippled themselves with the credit card debt that was so easily available to them during the economic boom of the Celtic tiger. They both had good jobs and living at home was the norm as it was for most of their peers.
Recently they both decided that it was time to fly the coop and strike out on their own. My son decided to go into a house share, and my daughter who had a state job decided to buy a house. I welcomed and supported them and their decisions in their quest to be independent and self-sufficient, and applauded their efforts and plans. All good so far…..But… and here is the BIG BUT – The reality of them leaving has left a hole bigger than the biggest hole in the universe!
I thought that I was always going to be cool about them going as I had promoted it throughout their teen aged years and had encouraged them to think about making lives for themselves away from the stable and comfortable place that they called home- but the fact is that I’m not cool about it at all. On one hand I am glad that they have made their life choices and flown the coop, but on the other hand I am missing them so badly that it hurts.
Over the years I learnt to forgive their clothes and trainers lying all over the house and the jackets and bags being flung on sofas and not picked up afterwards. I learnt not to nag when the pals came around and emptied the fridge of beverages and food and the bathrooms of loo rolls, and I also learned to relax if they were not home by 4am although if I woke up and the landing light was still on (last one in always turned it out) I would unforgivably text them to ask if all was ok. This was my style of parenting for two adult children living at home. Together with the untidy rooms, the empty fridge, the clothes lying all over the house there were also golden moments. Chatting with their pals when they came to call, sitting in watching movies, all squashed up on the sofa eating popcorn, playing Wii games and laughing at ourselves as we were beating each other with a competitive streak that bordered on the obsessive. These are the memories that I hold close and dear as well as the more tender ones like how they minded me so well when my dear and darling sister died tragically and unexpectedly two years ago.
Their father has taken a more pragmatic view of them leaving home and appears to be handling it better than I am. As he is retired, he has taken on the role of carer in a more practical way, by washing and cooking for them, ironing when needed and generally being very useful to them while they were still at home. If one wanted a special dinner, it appeared as if by magic that evening, and if another needed a lift into the city he was always available to act as chauffeur for them and for anyone else who wanted to travel with them. He has been a kind and nurturing father quietly providing practical support while I rowed in with the emotional backup.
Since the big move (three weeks now) he has been up in their respective abodes with screwdrivers and light bulbs. Hammering and wallpapering skills have been needed and gladly given, and welcome advice on gas heating, bills and alarm codes have been eaten up with glee by two young exited adults beginning a new phase in their lives.
While we both recognise that this is new for us, he appears to be coping in a more light-hearted way and constantly reassures me that they will be ok. He reminds me that we left our own parents when we were much younger and coped without the support that our own are getting from us now and we survived intact.
I know that he is right but I am still feeling lost. I feel that my role in life is undergoing a monumental shift and I am afraid that I will lose my way. For twenty eight years I have been a parent and during the early years my children defined me as a person. That has changed and I have a lovely life with wonderful family and friends pocketed in different places throughout Ireland and the world. I believe that I am a worthwhile person in my own right and I have worked hard throughout my life to have an identity that was of my own making and one that I was comfortable with. That said, I love my children above anything that I have ever achieved or owned and they have brought a richness and beauty to my life that I would be bereft without.
I am humbled by their intelligence and remember clearly the night that they whooped my ass in Trivial Pursuit (I was knocked off my pedestal that night and never recovered my equilibrium!) The tables turn and the child passes out the parent who once was the font of all knowledge….Such is life.
I will survive this separation. It is the natural order of things and I would not wish it to be any other way. I am fortunate to have their Dad beside me during this departure and I realise that there are new frontiers ahead to be explored for us as a couple. I just know that my life will never be the same again, and I mourn for that special part of my existence that seems to have passed all too quickly.
They have their own destiny to fulfill as I do mine.