Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Third Certainty

Me with Eldest at 2 hours old
They say nothing is certain but death and taxes. I beg to differ. For parents, there is a third certainty. From the moment your baby is born, the cord is cut and they take their first breath, they are striving to gain their independence. As parents we encourage it, we teach them the skills that they will need to grow and evolve and eventually become well rounded, considerate individuals capable of making their own informed decisions.

As a mother, I personally find this difficult. I like the fact that my children are young enough to be inside our house and I know where they all are. I love the way they are growing into sociable, questioning and loving people in their own right. Yet something inside me wants to resist these changes, as much as I know I can't.

On my daughters first birthday I made her a cake in the shape of a '1' with smarties all over it. Everyone watched as she was completely oblivious to what was going on but revelled in being the centre of attention. Years have passed and today she is nine. It seems like only yesterday I was sitting in hospital grinning and saying I would "do it all again in a heartbeat." Last night she had her first sleepover party and this morning at exactly 8.10 I was sitting in the kitchen having an emotional moment thinking about the moment I became a mother, and she was upstairs laughing and joking with her friends. Oblivious, but in a totally different way.

All of us in April 2011
We have reached the "half way to eighteen" stage and it terrifies me. I dread the day she starts senior school and has her own front door key. I dread the day my middle son stops shouting "I love you more than you love me" from the school door, not caring who hears. I dread the day my youngest son stops trying to snuggle in with me in the morning for a cuddle and telling me I am his "favourite person in the whole wide world."

I know, I know, the parent/child bond will be there forever, but it's a different relationship. I am preparing myself for the loss of being at the centre of my children's world.

This certainty is one of my motivations for writing. In 2009 I had a great sense of time racing on. My second child started school, and I started to wonder how I would cope with not feeling "needed" to the same extent any more. I started writing with the knowledge that when my third child starts school (Jan 2012) I will feel a deep sense of loss. When I come home to an empty house, missing the chatter of my children, at least I will always have my characters to keep me company.


16 comments:

  1. I'm in exactly the same place, and know just how you're feeling. It's all racing by so quickly now. The first twelve weeks of my eldest's life felt like the longest chunk of time in the nearly nine years since he was born. That they were also the hardest is very cruel of nature!

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  2. Hi Rebecca, it is this very essence of loss of these small people with their very direct love for us that I am trying to chart the novel I am writing. There's a part where I write about the girl asking the mother 'what was I like when I was five' and the mother, no matter how she wants to, can't quite remember. I bawled on re-reading that bit myself. The other day I brought my 3yo to playschool on his tricycle. He was so proud to be cycling down the road but it felt poignant because he looks so like my eldest who is nearly eleven and that time with him is definitely passed and hard to remember. This is making me well up. In short it's a core feeling and I totally understand. x

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  3. Happy Birthday to your daughter! My girls were fifteen in August and I know exactly what you mean. We're having conversations about the best A'levels to study next year for University. It's exciting, but a bit sad too. I want to stop the clock!

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  4. Happy birthday to your lovely daughter Rebecca. My daughters are now 32 and 31. It is different but so wonderful, you will revel in it. The friendship our years together created is stunning, even to me. Now instead of talking about school and homework, we talk recipes, go shopping and exchange writing.

    Also, I have three grandsons from them. I started a little young so, I have a 13 year old, a 9 and a 6, years old grandsons.
    It gets better!

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  5. Rebecca, I do remember those moments so well, and they are hard.

    It happens so quickly, with this strange telescoping of time, rushing past at mach speed, yet still feeling like it was yesterday that one brought this tiny creature home.

    It was hard dropping my youngest off at university this August, but I will say that he still says that he loves me, no matter who is around; his brother and sisters are the same, thank goodness.

    I fought the change as you are doing, and shed lots of tears with the various goodbyes. It does get the slightest bit easier.

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  6. Oh Rebecca, you've slapped me in the face-unintentional I'm sure. My son, my only child, will turn 9 in a couple of months. Although my husband is the stay at home parent, rather than me, I still get those same realizations. My alone time will not be when he's off to school, but when he goes off with his friends. I try to keep all those things out of my mind. If I don't think about them, he'll be little longer :) I do hope and pray that the parent-child bond will remain and just grow stonger. But deep down I know a stuggle will be coming and I dread it.

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  7. Our eldest son is 9, and my husband does the old, "In eight more years he'll be driving. In nine he'll be 18," and it freaks me out!

    I had to drop off some forms at the new school he will be attending next year, where he was still Year 5 and finish up in Year 12. Seeing all these 'men' walking around...I felt such anxiety knowing that it won't be long before he - and his brothers - will be that big. It really does fly.

    x

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  8. Hi Rebecca!
    My oldest turns 17 this week and my youngest is not that much younger, he'll be 16 in just a couple of months. I always thought it was so great that my kids are so close in age, especially because when they were younger they always had someone to play with, but the changing, growing and becoming independent happens twice as fast! It's funny how the sleepless nights of infancy suddenly seem like the easy part now.

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  9. MY son is 16 and I'm starting to feel that you-have-to-let-go-but-you-don't-want-to feeling. It's a very difficult time of life.

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  10. Just when you've survived being the parent of teenagers, the letting go of each little bird from your nest and watching them make a home of their own, something amazing happens; Grandchildren and you see the cycle repeat itself, only now we just get all the fun! ; )

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  11. We've seen two leave the nest...they are 21 (now out of college and in her own apartment!) & 19 (in the military). We have a 15 year old son in high-school, and we have an 8 & 6 year old (sons) in elementary school! I'm running the gamut of emotions here! Ha! Believe me, it's nice when they reach that maturity and get out on their own. You'll be so proud of them - the people they've become - and your relationship with them deepens to something stronger than you've imagined. It's great! Enjoy! ~ Nadja

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  12. Oh, bless. Your post is making me tear up. I only have one little 5 year old - he's going to be 6 years, this Weds... and I already feel him slipping into his own independent world. He's already old beyond his years but I remind myself constantly that - they are their own person, we can help steer them, nurture and enjoy being there for them. I dread the day he leaves the house but I will try to be brave for him too.

    I hope you have a good week! ;-)

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  13. What a wonderful post, Rebecca - I could just feel your emotion! I love the photos; you and your family look so happy.

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  14. My writing has certainly made me appreciate a quiet house, so I have to hold back a cheer every morning when the kids all leave for school and I can just sit at my laptop and write away. I've loved every stage with my children, and I've never really mourned the passage of time as they get older, but I know that when they start going away to college and leaving home, I'll be a basket case.

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  15. Thank you all for your comments on this. It was really a case of me rambling on to let my feelings out in my post, but I am glad I am not totally alone in feeling like this!

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  16. Happy birthday to your daughter, and yes, I understand this post. Last month was to be my first time in seven years to myself, from 9am to 3pm. The very thought... So I had another baby, but you can only have so many (!) and a new child doesn't stop you from missing the eldest's toddler years... It's a strange and intense feeling, to be with your child and miss him/her at the same time. The things we parents do to ourselves!

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