Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum

Kids. The glue that has kept my life together.

16 Comments

Yesterday I got a card from my youngest daughter. She is 16, sometimes a bit bratty and spoiled, but generally an independent thinker and I think she will be “okay.” Last week was a bit of a watershed for both of us. My baby got her Restricted driver’s licence. Independence. The last one I “have to” taxi around. When you live half an hour from town, an hour from the closest city, where they play a lot of sport, where the cinemas are, a licence is freedom – for both child and parent! I felt freed from the chains of super-organisation; who will pick up so-and-so from hockey/music/practice/school/dance/art lessons/swimming/insert activity here? The day after that, her braces were removed. All three drive and all three have finished the main part of their orthodontistry. I am through the major, hands-on parts of twenty-three years of parenthood. My friends are asking me if I feel sad, or if I am starting to worry about empty nest syndrome.

Very prematurely, I might add. She goes to study in France in early September for six months, then back for one more year of school!

emptynest3

Nyah-uh!

Not this Mum.

For while I love my children fiercely, I was never a “natural.” I was never clucky, nor particularly maternally oriented. I put that down to a few things, but clearly, at 24 (when I discovered the first shock pregnancy) I was very, very young to be heading off down that path. I was the only one I knew with a child – then children – for many, many years. Most of my contemporaries are at the pre-teen, or early teen stage with their eldest, many have just preschoolers. Very sensible! The way I would have done it, had I been able to plan it!  All that said, I have been a pretty kick-arse mother. I was chair of the kindy committee, chair of the PTA, chair of various sports and activities committees, secretary of others, I did my time! I coached teams, managed teams, drove them to far too many activities, cheered on the sideline, took literacy support classes and then ran the parent arm of the reading recovery group for kids at my kids’ school who were falling behind, both by organising the fundraising, and then the roster of trained parent helpers, encouraged them to say “yes” more than they say no to every new opportunity and option. I always try to make time in my busy schedule to listen. The youngest always gets me to proof-read every assignment she hands in, and make any suggestions for changes – the other two were far more independent and did it themselves.

So, when my baby chick wrote these words yesterday, I realised she knows, she understands how this battle has played out for me, far more than I thought, after all – she was asking when my university graduation ceremony (capping) was going to be, she was worried she would be overseas, as she will be when I complete my undergraduate degree (I didn’t even know she cared!)

“I’m so insanely proud of what you have achieved over the past couple of years. Thank you for your unconditional love and support for me over the years, I do appreciate it, although it may not always show at times. I’m incredibly lucky to have a mother as intelligent and trusting as you.”

I don’t think I write these words to brag about my status as mother of the century. I make mistakes, sometimes big ones. Last week, I was fraught and she wound me up about something (bratty) and I lost it and yelled pretty loudly at her, the red-faced kind of fury-letting that I used to be pretty good at as a child! Later, of course I apologised, it is a rare thing for me to lose it with them these days. She was forgiving, and owned what she did to light my fuse. I write these words here to say, hey, I grew some nice people. Go me. But more than that, go them. They have literally saved my life.

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16 thoughts on “Kids. The glue that has kept my life together.

  1. Oh what beautiful words, yours and hers! She will love France, and you will have so many things to explore yourself, I cannot see you as a bored empty nester at all, ever. I am glad she is so proud of you because I see the same strength and you are my inspiration, truly. Kids really are the glue, and I believe (though mine are young and this is untested) that 20 odd years of raising them means the glue is pretty much there to stay even when they leave the nest. Glue dries, it’s not like you have to keep holding it in place. I don’t think I’d still be married if it weren’t for the kids. One of us would have left. But we didn’t and now we probably won’t ever. We got glued and that glue sticks even through really painful stuff. I feel like I was superglued to Paul then hung out a window by my feet. But the glue stuck. Now to climb back in. Enjoy your freedom, and enjoy the fruits of your labour as your kids do you proud.

    • Wonderfully put, Neph. Sadly we got a dud batch, Rog and I. It didn’t bond stronger. A fact that I mourn every day. But at least the one for the kids seems to be holding. As the older ones mature, I see so many wonderful qualities developing, and especially my eldest, starting to blossom. I appreciate your words, thoughtfulness and support more than you’ll ever know. Who knew that “strangers” would be your most valued allies – as opposed to anyone at all in my “real life.” Life is crazy.

  2. I don’t think this is about bragging rights, just like I don’t think you (or any of us for that matter) are self absorbed because we write about ourselves on a blog. You are loved and appreciated and that is a mighty powerful thing. I also posted Sammy’s birthday message to me back in May. It’s not bragging, it is appreciating the hard work we put in and what we are reaping because of it. Of course there are bad moments, we are all human beings and we are all still learning to be the best we can and do the best we can for those around us. Your daughter sounds amazing. I know people say they stayed because of the kids, but sometimes I’m not so sure. By the time my d-day rolled around, my kids were grown. I am staying because I want to. You are in the circumstance you are in because it is the most practical for the moment. There will be many moments in the future where you will make difficult decisions for yourself, but they will be made for you, and your children will continue to respect you for everything you are and everything you do. I was never afraid of having an empty nest. It is the goal, not the punishment. How wonderful when our children are ready to be independent. It’s a notch in the cap! Happy Birthday, lovely lady. There is no shame in congratulating yourself for a job well done. That is what we are here for… reminding you it is okay to be happy, sad, angry, excited, proud, and just plain wonderful! ❤

    • Thanks, Kat. Yep, I agree about the empty nest being the goal. It was a time Roger and I looked forward to so much – a time when we could do the things we couldn’t do (that some of our contemporaries did do younger because they didn’t have children, lol) with children, some romantic “us” time, time for some FUN!

      I HATED, with a passion, the idea of staying for the kids. I told my sister-in-law – whose children, now 27 and 25, were barely three and one when her D-day hit, that kids are happiest with happy parents, and if she couldn’t be happy with her (serial cheating, she was an OW, one he left the wife for and married, go figure) husband, she was better off keeping him kicked out. She had a lot of family support, and her own business, so why did she need him? He just made her life miserable. I am kind of surprised that I now see, with hindsight, that the last year has been about getting kids launched. If you had told me that a few years back, I might well have slapped you :-). I don’t actually think I have stayed “for the kids” totally – more for economic reality. We can’t afford a lot of the extras if I live alone. That simple. For both the two of us, and for the kids.

  3. I don’t have children, so I don’t know what it would feel like for you, but make the most of this time. Be selfish, take some fun classes, do the things you always wanted to do. Plus now you have a great excuse to go to France again and again!! 😜

    • Cheers Caroline. I appreciate that thought so much. And I will! (Just sad that instead of it being something we were going to smash together, that I will be doing it alone.) Oh well, que sera sera :-). Tossing up whether putting off my Masters for a year so I can meet her to France is an option. I am pretty damn focused on that funny hat!

  4. Beautiful! And I feel exactly the same, and am in a very similar position. First child at 22, second at 24. By the time I’m 40 my oldest will be 18 – that looks an awful lot like freedom. I enjoy them so much more now they’re independent, I love watching them develop their opinions and ideas. Lots of my friends also have younger children, toddlers up to about 8/9, I do think to myself – bwahahahaha not on your nelly!! Your daughter sounds like a great reflection of your mothering skills, to have the confidence at 16 to go live so far for quite a while is a fantastic reflection on you as parent.

    • Cheers Owlie. She applied for a national language award last year – and won one! Very unexpected. Very exciting. A scholarship worth about $13k.

      As an older child of divorce, I was so fucking determined to either stay single, or find the best guy out there. One who was honest. I got him, I thought. He was “almost” that guy for over twenty fantastic years. Then he had a breakdown and wasn’t. Fuck it all! To be fair, although I have done the much larger share of the parenting, he’s a pretty great dad. If I could fault him – and hey, why not 😉 – it would be that he says “no” to everything as a first reaction, but then opens his mind and looks at the opportunities on offer and usually changes his stance. I say “yes” as much as I can. Maybe we balanced each other out.

      • Yes rich and I have this conversation a lot, he says no I say why not? And why not, life is there to be grabbed and shaken! The breakdown theme seems pretty common, or I wonder if it appears so because it was a word that was used a lot upon my discovery of the affair. Strange way to breakdown, I always think a breakdown would sap you of all energy, all enthusiasm, the will to try new possibilities – really the opposite of all emotions that a new relationship usually conjures. Anyway well done to your daughter, this sounds like an absolutely amazing opportunity.

      • Good point, owlie! Energy sapping comes later, when the whole mess explodes and the effort required to mop it up becomes so draining, maybe ;-)?

  5. There isn’t much I can add here other than support and love, Paula. You truly are a hero of mine and without knowing your kids, I couldn’t imagine they would be anything but amazing.

    As parents, we see our faults in raising our children before we see our positives. Despite our lack of confidence, our children grow and develop into amazing humans.

    Well done for raising three great people and keeping the faith 🙂 xoxo

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