For a little over 28 years I’ve been a mum. I suppose you could say it is what defined me for most of these years. That’s not to say I’ve not had a life outside of being a mum. I think I’ve used the years well, firstly doing a BA when the children were very young, and then doing a Masters degree in Library Studies when they were a wee bit older. In fact, No. 1 Son was born in the middle of my university exams, and sat with me through a couple of them as a tiny baby.
I’ve also worked outside the home for most of those years, and built up a pretty decent career all in all. But the simple fact remains that for most of the last 28 years I was a mum, and all my key decisions revolved around that. Any mum will surely agree that leaving the house to go to work, or study or whatever you do, you do not switch off being a mum. A part of you is always thinking about the kids, what they need for school, or dinner, whether they are healthy and well, or any one of a thousand other thoughts about family life. No matter how supportive your other half is, and mine wasn’t bad, a mum still finds it hard, if not impossible, to switch off from being a mum, and many poor women feel the need to apologise for this.
For me, this meant things like planning my first degree around papers that I could either do early in the morning before His Lordship left home for the day, or ones later in the day when he was home again. It included having a study off the kitchen so I could multitask by making dinner and working at the same time. It also meant taking one of them to work with me and hiding him under my desk when he couldn’t be coaxed in to school on occasion. Later on. it meant being the one to lie awake waiting for Darling Daughter to return home in the wee small hours of a Sunday morning while His Lordship snored on.
However, for the first time in all of these 28 years, we no longer have offspring living at home. Darling Daughter left home a number of years ago and her time away has included a couple of years based in London. But until last week we still had No. 1 Son under our roof. For the last several years he has largely done his own thing, but it was nice to know he was there or thereabouts, if you know what I mean. He was also a built in pet minder any time Mum and Dad felt like a break away. Now the place is empty and it feels kind of strange, and the family dynamics have definitely changed.
28 years! That is pretty close to half my life, and now the nest is empty. So of course, I have spent a bit of time in the last week looking at photos of my gorgeous children, and remembering their childhood years. We’ve had a few adventures as a family, including a three and a half month trip around Europe when they were 10 and almost 14 which stands out as one of the highlights.
As I look through the photos I can’t help thinking what I would give to have just a fraction of that time back again. Not to do anything different, you understand. But just to have them as children again, for just for a wee bit longer. I’d love to tweak their baby soft cheeks, and smell the gorgeous clean childhood freshness, and to be the person that they want to see more than anyone else in the world. But that’s not going to happen, and I am incredibly proud of the adults that they have become – both with such keen senses of humour, and caring and compassionate human beings as well.
And now it’s His Lordship and I settling in to our new place in the country, and trying to set up a new dynamic for just the two of us. It’s been so long since it was thus. For me this means reassessing personal goals, and dipping my feet back into things I have loved but set aside for a while. This includes getting involved more in music again. I don’t think it will involve the same level of partying and all-night card games as we had pre-children, although time will tell on that one.
I know that I am still a mum and will continue to be one, even though the day to day minutiae of their lives isn’t my concern anymore and they are no longer children. And I’m sure my son and daughter know that our door is always open to them. I just hope they look back and review their childhood years with as much love and affection as I do.