First day at school. He cried and wouldn’t let go of my hand. I smiled reassuringly, telling him it would be all right. Hadn’t we been talking about how much fun school is? Anyhow, I would be back before he knew it. I was strong and waited until he was out of sight before I cried. The next day he pulled away from me and ran off to greet his new friend.
School Camp: For the first five minutes the quiet was fantastic. If I tidied up their rooms, they stayed tidied. Ten whole days. I could cook whatever I wanted, watch whatever I wanted, put my feet up and read without interruption. Then I got a bit restless. I wanted the noise and the chaos. It’s what I lived for. I missed them, even the one who had those magazines under the bed. Getting off the school bus; I almost didn’t recognise them. A rucksack full of dirty clothes mingled in with the clean ones. Matted hair, scabby knees and voices hoarse from all night talk-fests.
‘How was it?’
‘Good’. (I asked each one separately and together, they both responded the same way.)
‘What did you do?’
A shrug of the shoulders. ‘You know.’
No, I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking. ‘Happy to be back?’
‘Yeah.’ I’ll have to talk to the teacher.
The first job: You hope that all the values and work the ethic that you instilled have taken. You watch anxiously as they find their niche and learn to stand on their own two feet. Lovely.
The first girlfriends: To save certain parties from embarrassment, we will skim over that one, except to say that there were lots of insecurities to be overcome. Boys experience it too.
I was there for the first everything and if I ever thought about it (I rarely did), I believed this state of affairs would go on forever.
Empty Nest: All I wanted was ‘a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air’ and to be as far away from the constant piping of little voices as I could be. Then, just as my children were old enough to be interesting human beings with a sense of humour and capable of decent dialogue and civilised to boot, they left home. They left me all alone in my empty nest. It was a liberating feeling until I realised that I while had my wish, I hadn’t prepared for the aftermath. You can only spend so much time a week having coffee with friends. I was a professional mother. It’s a funny job, mothering. Lots of us around but once we’re pensioned off that’s it. Then, of course, once we’re used to our new status and lulled into a sense of security, we are resurrected and called up for granny duties.