Wednesday, 14 March 2012

First Flavours.

Another lifetime ago, I was in a very different place to now. But on the 9th March 1995, the life I care to remember, started when my Son was born! And last Friday he turned 17!

And so last week was a time of Dawning Realisation that the uncomfortable feeling that I've been burying deep down in my sub-conscious over the last months is the knowledge that I am having to let go of a part of motherhood.

Matthew is a young man, he works hard as a carpenter and joiner in a full-time position, he is earning  his own money, he is level headed, sensible and focused. He has a good set of like-minded pals, a steady girl friend and, if the truth be known, I don't see much of him nowadays. After work, he goes to his Girlfriends or to a Mate's house or to the gym and now he has started driving lessons. So we often don't eat together anymore. He works on a Saturday morning and the rest of the weekend, he spends winding down and doing what young men do to have fun!

However, it was only last week that  I understood for the first time that I have lost a part of him, that he is no longer completely reliant on me and Rob, and that his life is taking him in a different direction in which he is carving out a path for himself that doesn't include me.

I see now that I have been suppressing my feelings around this, fooling myself that I wasn't affected and telling myself and anyone that would listen that Matthew and I have a close relationship where he tells me everything!

This emerging comprehension  eventually came when, after expecting Matthew to leave work at lunchtime and let me buy him lunch for his birthday, he told me he was going to work instead.
Although I didn't know it at the time, I was hurt by this and reacted by having an argument with Matthw accusing him of preferring to be at work than be with me!

Of course, that was a completely irrational accusation and based entirely on my opinion rather than fact and now I know it came from my feelings of rejection and powerlessness that my little boy is so independent.

Of course, Matthew's independence has worked for us in so many positive ways. We are saving money now where Matt is paying us (minimal!) rent rather than us paying him the pocket money which we were doing this time last year.

If he wants something, he buys it, clothes, games, phones, food etc...! So, Financially, we are much better off.

Also, over the last year, Matthew has matured so fast. He is happy and I don't have to worry about how he is getting on at school or getting him up to go or nagging him to find a job.

He has a job for which he rises at 6.45 every day and then cycles off for a 9hr day and he enjoys it!

So, I can see, and maybe it is obvious, that it has been easy to fool myself into believing that I was coping well with Matthew's thriving maturity. I'd even fooled myself into believing that Matthew wasn't really going to miss us when we do move away towards our life of self sufficientcy.

So, I initiated this argument which I now so clearly understand was based on my mixed up emotions. Matthew argued back and we fell into a DCM (a Deep Meaningful Chat, as Matthew later called it!)

It was then that I was able to acknowledge to myself and to Matthew that I am actually finding his gradual moving away from our family unit hard and upsetting. Matthew, in turn, acknowledged that he is worried and sad about us moving away from him.

I need to add here, that it is Matthew's choice not to join us in our quest for a Bohemian life free of the constraints of materialistic values. I'm not sure it would suit him at this stage in his life anyway. He enjoys being a young man with all the material things it involves at his age and I don't want to deprive him of that. I know he shares my values and beliefs deep down but I am not going to ask him to leave behind the life he knows and enjoys , in pursuit of something that is our dream. We have travelled a long path to understand our true vocation. Matthew's path is his own, it is not my place to yank him off it. He has his own rite of passage to experience but he knows where I will be whenever, wherever and however he needs me, and maybe one day, when he is ready, he may join us.

There were tears, hugs and long silences as we reflected and understood how we were both feeling, and after a couple of hours, we had agreed that we would go for coffee on another day and had reassured each other that we will be honest and talk openly about our hopes and concerns for  the future and encourage each other in our quests!

So, that was my First Flavour of  that "empty nest syndrome" that I have heard can feel so hard. It was my First Flavour of letting go of my little boy.

In the same week, my little girl (she is still my little girl) gave me the first flavour of her blossoming independence. She walked home completely by herself after going to the park after school. We live over half a mile away along a busy road, so this is, I believe a big First! In fact, I think I coped with it better than Rob, who seemed very anxious and reflected that he is seeing his little girl growing up and it is an alien feeling.

Having just gone through that feeling with Matthew, I was able to completely relate with Rob who I believe is going to find Bleu's getting older a whole lot harder than I have with Matthew!
Fathers and Daughters - it's a complex relationship, and these two have an extremely strong bond and unique connection of which I am not a part.

But that is for a whole other post!

So these Firsts were unsettling and thought provoking, but I have pondered them as I have pulled on my running trainers for the first time in 2012. Taking my first tentative strides into a run, I felt that familiar feeling of satisfaction and space to think which I filled with thoughts about Matthew and Bleu growing up.

For a long time, I wanted to conceive a third child. After three years, it was like I had an epiphany. It occured to me that I didn't really want a third child, that I was content, at peace and blessed with the family I have. I believe I didn't really want a baby, but that I wanted my children not to grow up. I didn't want another baby, I wanted them back as babies.

At that moment  my thought processes changed, and I started to embrace their journey through childhood which I continue to do. I am so Proud of my kids and often wonder how I got so lucky!

Away from Family, I experienced the first pangs of sadness at leaving my career behind and the first twinges of anger that I am having to. Over the next week, I finish with the organisation I have been with for 4 half years and although I will still be staying within the Health & Social Care Field, I am leaving behind my role as an Addictions Counsellor. I was forced to make this decision many months ago so it suprised me when I felt a Heavy Heart, although I know that reflects the difficulty I feel about saying goodbye to clients with whom I have formed therapeutic relationships and for whom this ending will also be difficult.

My frustration at the situation that has seen me take this decision to leave has led to a feeling of anger at how this is going to effect the lives of my clients.

For this reason, I have taken the decision to write a letter to  my local paper and to my local Member of Parliament who just happens to be David Cameron, Prime Minister.

I hope I will be able to report back on positive replies.

Next week, I start my first week in a new role which I am very excited about, working with people with Early Onset Dementia. So I am sure this will bring a whole new perpective into my life.

So with the last week of Firsts, I imagine, the next few days will consist of some Final Farewells, some difficult, some not so.

I hope they will not all be Final Farewells however, and look forward to a day when I can go for a coffee with some of the wonderful, resilient, strong and remarkable people I have worked with in this role. Individuals who have taught me humility and patience.

I have been very Lucky to have had the opportunity to do this work, and although I am sad to leave, it has taken it's toll on my emotional health so I know it is the right thing for me.

My experiences have been many and varied and I have met people who I  would never have met had I not been given this chance. Amazing, Inspirational and Kind indiviuals who I am so proud to have known.

This post is dedicated to them and their recovery; and to My Beautiful Children and their aspirations.




  1. It sounds like you have raised a wonderful young man who makes you proud. What a blessing. I just had my first child and I though I really try to live in each moment with her, I already know I am going to miss this baby phase of her life. I am going to watch out for what you said, feeling perhaps that you wanted another child when what you really wanted were your children back as babies. I think a lot of people feel this way and don't realize it. So I am glad you pointed that out so I can be on the lookout when I do begin to miss it.

  2. Hey Victoria
    They DO grow up fast, but NOT that fast really! Each Day brings new joy, discoveries and of course, a little frustration (sometimes!). The baby phase is lovely but so is Every other phase. They all just bring their own challenges, excitement and concerns!
    Thanks for readingx

  3. Matthew and Bleu are incredibly lucky to have you as their mother, and the example you are setting them by being true to yourself and honest with your feelings is priceless xx