Tag Archives: Teenagers

role models for teenagers

I can let go now

Here I am, picking up the emotional debris strewn before me when we dropped off our eldest son at Warwick University last Saturday.empty nest syndrome

I have read about this so called ‘loss syndrome’, I have even written about it, but absolutely nothing prepared me for the emotional upheaval I felt as we said our goodbyes last Saturday to our beloved son.

I was warned by friends, each of whom have experienced what has become known as the empty nest syndrome.

I even laughed when one of them in the first few weeks made weekly trips up to the University to drop off supplies and much needed food, ‘you need to let them go’, I rebuked.

I regret even suggesting let alone saying those words, now that I understand the pain and feelings of loss she was going through, and that was over three years ago.

The eldest has now graduated and is working in London the younger daughter headed off to Bristol and she is experiencing the same bitter sweet pain of loss.

‘I now have two empty bedrooms’, she told me.

empty nest syndromeI was not prepared for the visceral wrench the ripping out of the heart and stamp on it feeling.

The wave of complete and utter loss and desolation, I am bereft as the leaves that whisk past me as I walk through the car park.

The feelings I am experiencing of pain and sorrow are akin to grief.

If this is what grief feels like then I am ill prepared to face it.

The past three weeks have been a mixture of frustration, anxiety and ‘can’t wait for him to leave’ such was the buildup of tension, excitement and emotional turmoil.

It felt like there was so much more time to spend with him and yet I find myself wondering did I really do enough?

We should have gone to London like we talked about, and, taken a walk together, mother and son.

And I can’t have that time back again.

He wants independence and the freedom to move on and learn new things. It is not my son’s problem to cope with what I am feeling.

Whilst we unpacked and I sorted the food cupboard and bathroom, my younger son and my husband set about doing the practical stuff.

All the while I was slowly losing a bit of him to his new found independence.

I find it difficult to reconcile that I won’t get a call from him when he’s leaving the athletics track on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, ‘Hi Mum just ringing to let you know I’m leaving for home now’.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I miss the banter in the car when I pick up the boys from school and how he would tell me about his day.

I don’t know the details of when he goes out, whom he is going with and where he is going.

We have grown use to him sharing with us what he is doing, where he is going and who he is with but now that will change.

He is independent, it is his time, he has no need to tell us his every move unless he wants too and we are of course excited to know what he has been up to.

But I know I have to let go of him.

empty nest syndromeThe letting go is like someone taking a knife and pushing it right through the very heart and soul of me.

I am left bare and at a complete loss.

I am emotional when I wash his remaining clothes, I cry when I put his freshly ironed jeans and sweatshirts in his wardrobe.

lie down on his bed when the feelings of loss sweep over me and clutch his PJ’s to my chest, burying my head the smell of him still lingers.

It is a feeling of indescribable wretchedness that envelopes me bringing a lump to my throat and as I write this; if feels like utter dejection, loss and sadness rolled into one.

Like being ‘chucked’ by your first love, that one pain free milli-second  when you stir in the morning with no thoughts then suddenly it surfaces and you feel nothing but heartache.

As the week draws to a close, the feeling of pain has eased.

I was fortunate enough to have a meeting on Monday within half an hour’s drive of the University which allowed me to drop a box of things he still needed.

I wondered with trepidation if this was the right thing to do?

Seeing him again after only two days, how would I react?

Would it set me back, would the angst resurface like a gnawing toothache felt in the pit of my stomach.

But, as it turned out it was wonderful, we chatted and he showed me his reorganised room, he told me about the various clubs and societies he is thinking of joining and the new friends he has met.

As he walked me to the car my spirit lifted, I knew he was safe and well and most importantly taking care of himself.

We hugged and said our goodbyes as I drew out of the car park I waved back and my heart and stomach lurched again but, I am grateful for seeing him, it has reassured me that he is going to be okay.

As I drove out of the car park, I realised that the last eighteen years have been about this very moment, letting go of my first born as he asserts his independence.

But the loss a parent feels, I feel, is so overwhelming.

It is akin to being suffocated.

A mother’s love is wide as it is deep, it never errs or falters and it can never be diminished or demeaned, it is an never ending love and one that is not easily put into words.

Just being a mum is a joy and a privilege and the only thing I need to know is that he is happy and safe.

He is a much loved son and I know that with time I can let go.

More Reading

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

That thing you do called ‘motherhood’

Just being Mum

Beauty woman is showing middle finger

No teenagers welcomed here

The final countdown to my son’s departure to University and my menopausal symptoms have a real hold of me.

I’m not sure if it’s depression, or the fact it’s September blues or hormones, either way coping with two rebellious teenagers and one stroppy mother (aka me) is making the house a war zone.Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

I would probably have more success negotiating my way out of an Al Qaeda cell than trying to get my two to do ANYTHING.

Three weeks into the new school term and I have my fourteen year old telling me how busy he is with homework now he is in the upper school.

‘So much homework mum, can’t possibly help’, when I asked him to clean the oven hob.

He is grumpy and monosyllabic first thing in the morning and woe betide you touch his crown, that’s his hair to you and me.

My 18 year old finds it almost impossible to stir much before 10:30am, preferring the comfort of his room until the house is empty.

Apparently he IS STILL ON HOLIDAY and so doesn’t think staying in bed until mid-day is unreasonable, after all, ‘Mum when I’m at University…’

p.

Mr M and I actually wonder if he will ever see daylight again and I have it on very good authority that when they go to University they become nocturnal creatures.

In the midst of all of this maelstrom I call my middle age, it dawned on me that whilst my two teens are stuck in puberty I’m spiralling through the menopause.

Two of the worst stages of life for a woman.

After all, she is the one that has to endure pubescent teens coupled with the onset of the menopause.

The hormonal swings are as radical as Corbyn’s policies with each teen managing stress, sex and growth hormones and one woman who is sadly lacking in every area with the exception of stress, that I have in abundance!

While testosterone levels in all of us are as high as the UK debt, this hormonal often volatile mix means we are all angry, h-angry and impatient.

They have too many hormones and mine are all but in the toilet.

I am reassured by well meaning friends who intimate that their ‘niceness’ will come back E-V-E-N-T-U-A-L-L-Y.

I remain unconvinced.

Teenagers work on remote control they don’t think before they speak nor do menopausal women and I often find myself saying things out loud which should really be confined to the comfort of my brain.

I did wonder if you can develop Tourette syndrome during the menopause, after all I seem to share all the symptoms, motor and vocal tic.

I understand why middle aged ladies are depicted as miserable and feisty, it’s because we’ve had to endure the menopause and it leaves us irritable, tired and anxious.

I did not appreciate that I would have to navigate my way through this menopausal maze and cope with teenage mood swings.

I wonder how Mr M has stuck it out all this time?

He deserves a medal.

In truth, he has been very understanding he tells me it is because I have explained every nuance of the menopause, what it feels like, the highs and lows, the fixation with it being too hot or too cold.

The menopause is a bit like puberty in reverse so we women get it at both ends of the ageing cycle.

What I've learnt since reaching my 50sIf we are fortunate, we get thirty years where we are at our peak from fifteen to about forty-five, then it’s all downhill when our oestrogen finally checks out.

The other disadvantage of the menopause is the lapse in memory.

When I am told ‘Mum, I’m out tonight with the lads’, the response is immediate, ‘you never asked me or told me’.

The perfect excuse for my son and I to go to war.

I lose my temper because I swear he didn’t tell me and my son loses his cool and accuses me of having a go at him.

My voice goes up five octaves and he rants at me with the coolness that befits a skilled negotiator both of us throwing tantrums that most three year olds would be proud of.

The smallest thing sends me vitriolic; the landing gear from the planes that fly overhead could fall through the roof and I would shrug my shoulders and say s**t.

On the other hand, my sons can send me off the richter scale just by breathing and leaving their dirty pants strewn on the landing.concept of aging and skin care

It is bad luck that timing has caused this catastrophic situation for the household.

Whilst I am deemed an older mother, I was pregnant with my second child at 39, late by the British Medical Journal standards.

Raising children at any age is hard but as I approach my mid fifties, I am facing the reality of being an older mother with my teenagers and me going in different hormonal directions.

My boys are strong and athletic, lean and muscular and I‘m jealous because their bodies are peaking to optimum hotness.

Mine is beginning to sag and in spite of exercise and good eating you can’t halt the onset of middle age and you certainly can’t stop it marching across your face.

I am overwhelmed with surges of hot flushes, they arrive like a tidal wave and I literally have to strip off which doesn’t bode well when one of Mr M’s employees happens to come through the back door to drop something off and I’m standing there in bra and jeans.

‘Hot flush’ he says, like he’s talking about the weather, ‘yes’, I say as I fumble with putting my top back on, face flushed and even redder than it was five minutes earlier.

I managed a wolf whistle from a nearby workman on my run this morning, until I turned around and glared at the man, who apologised, ‘sorry love, didn’t realise…’ didn’t realise what that I’m old, older?

Beauty woman is showing middle fingerIn spite of the riots, the stroppiness and the mood swings, there are moments of tenderness when the boys give me a hug and the home, usually a war zone, becomes Switzerland, for the next ten minutes if I’m lucky.

 

happy family jumping together on the beach

Have I been a good enough Mum?

What does it take to be a good mum? Mother With Teenage Son Sitting On Sofa At Home

Who decides if you are a good or bad mother?

Am I doing a good enough job raising my boys and how will I know if I succeed?

All the above and more have been hurriedly circling my brain since last Thursday when we got the great news that our eldest secured his place at Warwick University.

From the moment he walked into our room at a little after 6:15 in the morning with a mooted expression I got 2 A* and a B. Great yes but!

He needed an A in German as part of the condition of entry, would these results be good enough? Surely yes, said my inner me but the vocal me couldn’t help but say why the hell do you have to make it complicated.

We waited for what seemed like an eternity for UCAS to confirm his offer of acceptance and in that time I went through every single conceivable emotion, elation, worry, anxiety and relief.

When I heard shouting, ‘yes, get in there’ I didn’t register what this meant.

happy family jumping together on the beachI ran up the stairs, two at a time into the bathroom, where my son sat proudly on the throne he showed me his phone and there was the offer of acceptance.

How I wept with joy I ran up and down the stairs, hyperventilating with excitement and sheer bloody relief.

It was at that moment I realised that I had been carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders for the last six months probably longer.

Worrying, supporting, caring, managing my eldest to ensure that everything was right for him for these most important exams.

Why worry so much?

It is hardly the end of the world if a kid misses the mark, they can re-sit, re-do, take a year out, no one ever died because they didn’t get the grades.

And yet here I was relieved that all had come to pass. That the last two years were all about this moment, this one moment that can change the path of a person’s future.

After deep breaths and a quiet moment later I reflected on the last eighteen years and asked myself have I been good enough?

A huge A+ with a red circle on a paper

Did I get it right?

Often critical and tough, very much the way I was brought up I hope that my children have learnt the important lessons of life.

For each parent they may well be different ideals but for me it has always been:

  • Never giving up
  • Listening and understanding
  • Be gracious even when you believe it should have been you
  • Thankfulness and politeness
  • Be steadfast in your decisions

Being a mother has been a job and challenge borne out of love and tenderness. Just when you think you’ve nailed it the tide shifts and you feel out of control with only the prevailing wind keeping you on course.

Parents Helping Children With Homework At Kitchen TableBut parenting skills are not learn’t overnight, it takes time and experience and gut instinct to ensure you are getting it right and even the most hardy of mothers can find her teen very testy to say the least.

 

His idea of timekeeping is usually at least 40 minutes after the designated time. He spends more time in the bathroom than I do and he has an answer for ‘everything’. 

Am I describing anything new?

No, of course not, because all teens go through this phase.

I call it the proving to the world I’m here and I want to be seen and heard phase.

My eldest has become the best ‘how to get out of doing something’ expert, he could right a book on listing excuses on how to get out of doing jobs around the house.

But deep down I know he cares and this is his way of forging his own views and developing independence.

His forthrightness and his ability to stand up for himself are proof that he has strength of character.

Like most teenagers who are solely into themselves, I wondered whether he really cares about anything at all?

Does he love his parents, his brother, will he miss any of us when he goes off to University?

When we left school on Thursday morning, A level results day, congratulatory celebrations in the air, we walked to the car.

He took my hand and said thank you for everything mum, for your love, support, I do love you, you know.

And with tears in my eyes I looked at him, a young man in his prime, a new chapter about to begin, pride and love swelled in my heart, tears in my eyes.

“Yes, I do believe I have done a good job”.

Enough said.

 

empty nest syndrome

Letter to my eighteen year old son

My darling son

So, here we are, another year, another birthday except this time it is the big 1 8.

It only seemed like yesterday that you came into our world like a ray of sunshine, yet cold and blue having left the warmth and cosiness of the womb in which you grew.

Mom and baby lying in the bed home

For those first few hours I could not keep my eyes off you, a gorgeous bundle of love and fun.

I held you close and vowed that no one or anything would ever hurt you.

The enormity of what I had created, a new life a living breathing person wasn’t lost on me and I knew that becoming a mother is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon a woman.

On the second day you gave me your first smile I looked lovingly into your brown eyes and I knew there and then there was a connection, you knew I was your mummy and that I was here to love and cherish you.

I loved you beyond the realms of explanation, it was a love that I had never felt for anyone else, completely different to the love and feelings I have for your dad.

From that day forth, my love like a carefully tendered flower has bloomed for you.

As a toddler you delighted in trying out different things and like your mum, you always needed plenty of sleep. You loved your food especially cake and there wasn’t anything you wouldn’t try.

From toddler to young boy you were reserved, shy and reluctant to push yourself forward.

Getting your kids to readYour shyness often held you back from doing the things you wanted to do and it wasn’t until you became a teenager that you began to show your true colours.

There have been difficult times for you and that is part of growing up,  often overlooked and without the recognition you deserve your frustrations would sometimes spill over.

For the past two years you have achieved many successes and proved to the onlookers who doubted you just how good you truly are and that is down to your hard work and commitment.

Despite setbacks, you continued to work hard; to be resilient, and, as a result you have grown into a fine young man, one that I am proud to say is my son.

Intelligent, articulate, strong and feisty, you always want to have the last word and like every teenager you are of course, never wrong!

I have always known that there was a superstar waiting to burst out and you haven’t proved me wrong.

Every parent thinks their kids are the best and I have been guilty of believing that you were better at things than perhaps you really were.

Family happiness! Happy mother tenderly embracing his two sons iBut, because I pushed and encouraged you, you are now strong and more resilient ready to face life’s ups and downs.

You are beginning to find your place in life’s rich tapestry and, as you learn and acquire knowledge coupled with life experience, you will learn to cope with life’s ups and downs because you are ready.

It is important to live by the values, morals and discipline that dad and I have taught you.

That you don’t forget the importance of family, friends and especially your brothers.

Be considerate and always respectful of others, even in the face of hostility, aggression and rejection. To be patient, kind and be civil are important human virtues.

Be mindful of others, always listen and be respectful when someone asks about you.African-American single-parent family

Learn to step back and breathe once in awhile and remember that you only pass this way once.

Make the most of your life by having fun and joy with loved ones and is more important than valueless items.

There will be many temptations along the road, be careful and earnest about the life choices you make.

And so it is my darling son that my job as a mother is almost done.

My heart is slowly breaking as I know that we have reached the end of our journey together for it is hard being a mother and a parent.

We will always be here for you and support you whenever you need us.

But you are a young man and it is time for you to make decisions and choose your own way.

Being a mother is emotionally tough as you watch your son grow and leave the family to form new friendships and relationships and there is the realisation that you are no longer the “one”.

It is incredibly hard to let go because I can see that little blonde haired and brown eyed one year old giggling as he puts a fistful of donald duck cake into his mouth.

The love of a mother runs deep and wide and I would sacrifice my life for you in whatever the circumstances.

One day when you become a father you will understand those words, loving a child is an act of selflessness, our love is infinite.

When all is said and done we can look back with satisfaction, share wonderful and beautiful memories of great times spent together.

We must look forward now with excitement and opportunity, what will your next stage of life look like and what path will you travel along?

I have tried to teach you all that I can to prepare you for this world.

You are a young man, an adult and with that comes great responsibility.

It is your job to set a good example to your brother and to others around you, to prove what we’ve always believed, a strong, caring and wonderful human being.

At times you will feel like the world is enormous and that you’ll never find your own way you will be knocked down, but, you will find the effort to get up and try again, don’t give up even when every sinew in your body screams at you to do so.

Adult Son Moving Out Of Parent's HomeBelieve in yourself as dad and I do, when the world appears dark and lonely and you think you can’t do it have faith, believe, succeed.

That is the wonderful thing about being human, our frailty and fragility also makes us strong and steadfast.

Never be afraid to stand up up for what you believe in and never, ever sacrifice your beliefs and what you hold dear to your heart.

I will always be your most trusted friend, your confidant, the person that will cuddle and love you no matter what age, but mostly I’ll always be your mum.

It has been a privilege raising you, loving you, nurturing you and I’ve loved every single second of every single minute, I am proud to be a mum to such a wonderful and beautiful person as you are.

With much love and honesty, always and forever.

Mum

xxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Group of friends playing digital games at home.

The Impetuousness of Youth

The kids of today, want things straight away.

As they rush around, like headless chickens.

Never listening, nor pausing,

To soak in the view.

Decisions, decisive

Yet seemingly

Random.

No knowledge of history, or geography.

Anything in books, or owt that’s old.

Preoccupied only,  by the very, very new.

Like me, when I was young;

Yet was I really All

That bad?

©Paul Butters

Multitasking millennial concept

When I decided on this headline,  I typed into google the

‘Impetuousness of Youth’ and up popped this poem.

I couldn’t help think it summed up some of the youth of today and I include my soon to be 18 year old in this group of selfish, spoiled, ambivalent of what is happening around them generation.

A sweeping generalisation? Maybe

There can be no doubting that young people are growing up less prepared for the real world and I can testify to that when, back in October my son and I were doing the University rounds, a father put his arm around his son to comfort him and said, “are you ok son, it’s a lot to take in isn’t it, too much in one day”.

We looked at each other and fell about laughing whilst the hug didn’t go unnoticed to speak to a 17 year old like a child is surely making the path ahead tougher than it needs to be.

It is the parents who need to educate teenagers to life’s ups and downs, teach them resilience with tough love thrown in for good measure, steady the ship when waters are choppy and make sure they can take care of themselves when they leave home, being able to cook, wash, iron and ensure they know how to take care of their own personal hygiene.

My son’s school has decided to give boys in the U6th lessons on the basics of cooking, because many of them simply have no idea how to cook.

Compare that to my generation, by thirteen I was able to cook a sunday lunch, macaroni cheese, casserole, and cakes.

My local state school had home economics in the timetable and girls had a double lesson once a week from the age of 12 – 14 years thereafter you could continue with it to O-level (now GCSE) and the boys got to choose woodwork or metalwork.

We learnt how to sew on buttons and mend basic items of clothing, we even learnt to knit.

Subjects clearly defined by gender.

Why has this generation created more controversy than any other?

They are portrayed as selfish, narcissistic, self absorbed, have an attention span of three minutes and a smartphone permanently affixed to their left hand?

The answer is ‘I don’t know’.

My generation of ‘baby boomers’ have been accused of taking away their future, their access to housing and jobs. But I think it runs deeper than that.

Parents are bringing up young people unprepared for the realities of adulthood, parents, teachers and police lack the discipline and respect once afforded them.

The american author, Rick Johnson in his book; ‘That’s my teenage son’ believes that with more single mothers raising sons, boys are being feminised and are not developing into capable strong male role models.

The absence of a father figure in the household cannot be underestimated, a father who is absent or abandons the family is more likely to produce a son who, will do the same thing.

In the same way a husband who abuses his wife passes on the same legacy to his son, who thinks that that behaviour is the norm.Group of friends playing digital games at home.

Mothers face the perennial dilemma of ‘letting go’ of their children and I am dumbfounded by stories from well meaning mothers who drive up to university with a month’s supply of food to help their ‘little darlings’ who, are so far from home.

How does this help our children stand up and become adults. I am sure that at some point I, will, do the same thing, I see it as part of the ‘letting go’ process, the part where they are no longer ‘yours’.

They meet new friends and peers, mum has limited influence and is no longer the most important person in her child’s life, a bitter pill especially when you have nurtured them from birth.

It is alright to accept advice from the new found girlfriend or boyfriend but you give them the same advice and are accused of not knowing what you’re talking about.

Has this generation lost its sense of direction? Because parents have done or, are doing too much for them?

With both parents often working long hours to maintain a reasonable level of income it is understandable if when both get in the last thing they want to do is spend quality time with the kids, engaging in conversation when either offspring are in front of the T.V or on their smartphone.

Parents feel guilty for not being able to invest more time with their children and placate them by buying the latest phone or letting them go to that concert they’ve been nagging you about for the last two months.

Children are having their demands met because parents, due to a lack of time and work pressures, give in to keep the peace.

They want it now and they won’t wait for it.

Contrast that to my generation who worked university holidays had saturday jobs and saved to buy their first car.

I bought my first car at 22 it was my brother’s ford fiesta.

My eldest son got his first car at 17, we bought him his car and he has agreed to pay for it when he is working.

There were no such expectations when I was 17 and, I never expected my parents to buy a car for me.  

My father got a good deal with the local Ford garage, a customer of his at the time, he helped me get the best option for a small loan to buy the car, but financial help, no way, and, I wouldn’t have even thought to ask.

This generation almost believe they have a sense of entitlement, in a way we never did.

School teachers, priests, the police force and other authoritative figures were revered and respected they had the power to discipline but this has all but been removed.

Children no longer respect authority or rules and this in turn makes them completely unprepared for the realities of adulthood with its boundaries and rules particularly in the workplace. 

Children have more rights than I ever had at school and this leaves adults feeling helpless and unable to discipline their own and other people’s children without fear of reprisal.

Children should be looking forward to a future that holds some certainty and security.

Whilst I use to hate being told, “there’s a time and a place” by my parents that statement holds true. I fully commit to allowing my children to express themselves but with common decency and courtesy.

Children should be able to say what and how they feel, I believe that any government must address this issue of who holds the balance of power in the classroom, teacher or pupil?

Has the balance of power shifted?

What is the answer?

On balance this generation in my view are laid back, technology addicted  and a confident generation.Networking

They are audacious and have more confidence than we ever did, we would stick out a job for at least 18 months because we were ‘told’ leaving sooner didn’t look good on the C.V yet this generation are bold and brassy.

If they don’t like it they say so and they aren’t scared of ditching the job if it doesn’t work out.

I worked with some awful managers and because I was scared of taking a risk and being out of work I stuck it out.

This generation are the opposite they are probably the most educated and diverse generation, they are open to new technologies, ideas and openly express their opinions in ways I never did.

They are the true digital generation, they have grown up with the internet, mobile phones, social media and apps. They can work out a new smartphone in less than the time it takes for you or me to make a cup of tea and they are always seeking answers to questions.

Their experience of the world has been shaped by a digital landscape.

They are not afraid.

Are we missing a trick?

Whilst I read almost daily about this much misunderstood, maligned generation I can’t help think we are missing a trick here?

They are overtly confident bordering on arrogance, they are the sharing generation, they are the forward thinking generation, aspirational beyond what they are probably capable of but they want to contribute now; they want to be seen and heard, they don’t want to wait until they are three rungs up the corporate ladder before their opinion is valued.

They want to share ideas and innovations and they don’t appear to be scared even at the expense of ridiculing themselves.

Should we and employers change how we view them?

UK businesses should be harnessing this mass potential, give them a shot at the big time, allow them to unleash the technology that is second nature to them whilst we are still coming to terms with the power social media, apps and digitisation can have in the business workplace.

BYOD (bring your own device) has largely been promoted by this generation they want the device of their choosing and not one that is provided and because they are mobile they are used to working from anywhere and at anytime, from coffee shop to corporate office.

To dismiss this generation would be foolhardy because they are undoubtedly redefining this century.

We should embrace their knowledge, their attributes and their commitment in expressing ideas and, whilst I roll my eyes when I say this, they will be the future business and government leaders of tomorrow, just maybe, we should be prepared to respect and acknowledge them.

Further Reading

Do our children ever stop needing us?

What no role model? Do children need role models?

What’s your flava? Child favouritism, who do you love more?

Family Walking on Beach

When 4 becomes 3. The empty nest syndrome

I say goodbye to my husband and boys as I leave the beach an hour earlier to get a head start on the packing.
It’s our final few hours of our summer holiday and as I head off on my bike I watch my two boys playing in the sea their shadows silhouetted against the setting sun.

I am choked by the emotion I feel and my tears start to flow, feelings of love, tenderness, loss, at the same time a vice like pain in my chest and a sense of overwhelming inevitability.

What on earth has made me feel like this?

Another school year raced by so quickly it almost left Lewis Hamilton in it’s wake and with a summer holiday over it means another step toward my eldest son leaving home. Group Of Elementary School Pupils Running In Playground

I can’t wait for them to go back to school’, breathed one friend recently and I have to admit there were many times this summer when I uttered the same words.

‘Why is the summer holiday so long?’ another friend remarked, tired with her children always being bored.

I am grateful for the summer holidays, although I still have to work I get time to spend time with the boys without the busy school schedule, school runs and after school activities.

GCSE and A level results are out and many parents including my friends are facing up to the prospect that their 18 year olds will be leaving home.

They are on the precipice of adulthood and it’s the moment every mother dreads, your first born taking the first real adult steps into the world and then they stop needing you.

That long and lingering final hug, the tears and the fears, all the emotions welling up inside.

Last year I wrote about the empty nest syndrome whilst I am three years away from facing that emotional roller coaster ride, I can’t help but feel empathy for parents who are facing up to the reality that their eldest are leaving home.

chipiona beachAs I watch my children play in the sea on the final day of our summer holiday I am sad that their childhood has been stolen from me because the years have passed so quickly.

September sees the start of the GCSE challenge and I am worried that in this important academic year, a year that could change his destiny, it will be my anxiety that will dominate the relationship I have with my son.

All the conversations are likely to focus on what he should be doing, has the homework been done, will the coursework be finished and submitted on time, will the revision and planning be enough, what grades will he eventually get?

I am under no illusion that the year will focus on the end goal, the final results. There will be much to discuss and organise and I fear little time to spend as mother and son.

There are still things left to do that I desperately want my son to see and enjoy; like plan a trip to New York, go to Disneyland in Florida, see a band in concert all before he departs and leaves for good.

All of which cost a small fortune but they are things on my to do list, trips I want to do as a family of four and when I’ve done

it I will feel that I have given my kids a rounded education.

My younger son knows the importance of this year and when I mentioned that his big brother has only three years of school before leaving and then four will become three, I noticed how he bit his lower lip as he fought back tears.

In spite of their arguments I know they do love each other and the dynamic of the whole family will change when the other leaves. It has to and it can’t and won’t feel the same.

This raises a new issue when it comes to holidays. Will my younger son want a friend to come on holiday? How will he feel being on his own when we go away?

There will be an empty chair at the dinner table and an unbearable silence in the house.

This year is important not just because it’s exam year but it is likely to be the last year we spend as a family unit, just the four of us.

When the exams are over he will want to go out with his friends, girlfriends and party and will spend less time with his family. The transition from a teenager to young man will be complete.

Having quality time as a family, sitting down and having meals together will be the special moments to cherish. Family Walking on Beach

I still have things I need to share with him, experiences that might help him later in life like the adult sex talk, the one I remember having countless times with my mum.

And whilst I talk openly about ‘things’ he giggles and says ‘Mum, I’m busy, I know all about it mum’.

I worry that the time will ebb away before we say the things we should have said but didn’t. Will he be ready for his entry into the world as a man to take on life’s challenges?

All of this I see as my job as a parent and mother to impart wisdom and knowledge.

At the same time I’m reassured by friends who tell me ‘they know, you don’t need to worry, they know a lot more than we ever did, and we managed’.

I see our roles changing. I will become less significant in his life, whilst his life and what he does will be even more important to me.

I will still be Mum but, I also want to be his friend, counsellor and confidante. Do I ask him each night how school is and how he feels, does he need help with anything or do I wait for him to come to me?

Should I ask where he is going, what he gets up to, who are his friends and girlfriends and is he really okay? Just so he knows we all care and love him.

As heart breaking as it is, parents raise their children and prepare them to leave the family home. They have to assert their independence and make a life for themselves it is part of growing up.

A baby chick is encouraged to fly by it’s mother and as parents we have to do the same with our children, encourage them to spread their wings and learn to fly and stand on their own two feet.

Although I have three years before my eldest son leaves, I am already experiencing the feelings of the pain and loss associated with empty nest syndrome.

As a mother I never thought it would be so hard and hurt so much as this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I want to leave my family… just for a week

I want to leave my family just for a week.It may sound selfish and probably insane but fifteen years since the birth of my first child and the arrival of my second almost eleven years ago I’m in urgent need of some well-earned ‘me’ time. 

I’ve always been there for my family through thick and thin, good times and bad and I am at the point where I need to re-discover who I am.

I have morfed into a cross between a young looking XX year old mum who is fashion conscious but wondering if she’s beginning to dress like her own mother, to a teenager in Vans and Skinny’s.

I’m not even sure what look I’m trying to cultivate for myself. I’m stuck in no womans land, who am I, what am I, who do I want to be.

It is that feeling you get when you take a deep sigh and harrumph!

What do I mean?

I’ve put my life on hold for my kids and to some extent my husband, for sure I run a business and I contribute to our financial sure footing so it’s not like my whole life revolves around them.

Who am I kidding of course it does. I run errands for them, I take them into school most mornings and I collect them from school (too far to walk and the bus doesn’t go all the way.) And I work in the same town.

You can find me lurking in the school grounds long after parents and children have gone home for a drama rehearsal that is running beyond the finish time of 8:00PM or a swimming competition that is in another town and has overrun by an hour making it 7:30PM before they get back to school.

I rush to school at lunchtime because one of my adolescent’s has left their PE bags in the boot of the car. I spend more time in that school car park than I do in bed with my husband.

Escape and be freeI’m there through sickness and health, tears, tantrums, happiness and laughter. I provide the emotional and physical support, I am the proverbial tower-block for them.

Why do I have this inherent desire to leave, to flee the ship to abscond to escape like a prisoner desperate to see blue skies?

Simple I need to discover me.

You see it got lost somewhere between M for Mummy and CS for cervical smear.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be me. I lost my identity and myself sometime back in 2003 after my second child. I feel more like a Mum and less of a woman

I love motherhood every moment has been precious to me. I love its daily challenges; why can’t I play with my ipad in bed or why do I need to go to bed so early, my friends are allowed to stay up later on school nights.

The overwhelming feelings of love are inexplicable as is the dislike of their bad behaviour and answering back which at times force me to the whisky bottle.

Yet I absolutely cannot justify booking a week at a spa retreat or on a ‘singleton’ type holiday and leave them just because I’m going through what might seem to be a mid-life crisis.

Certainly doesn’t feel like it to me.

I had a birthday gift given to me in January, one night at a spa retreat, one whole day and night being pampered but I am hesitant to go.

Am I completely insane?

I have guilty feelings for even thinking of leaving our home for one day let alone seven nights.goldfish jumping out of the water

Why?

Because it feels like I am abandoning them. For so long I’ve always put them first, their well being is far more important than mine.

At the same time, I need to get back in touch with the person that is me, the person I was before I got married.

The occasional flirtatious, sexy (my husband’s view), very funny chick that would laugh at the most outrageous things and behave occasionally very badly.

What am I scared of?

That my husband wouldn’t love the real me, the person I use to be when I was his girlfriend, the woman he proposed to?

I can’t have changed that much surely.

Maybe I have. Too many years being a mummy and fitting comfortably into the genre is enough to make anyone question their identity.

Am I having an identity crisis? 

Do I need solitude from the ‘noise’, kids noise, school noise, work noise, world noise?

The idea of decamping from house and home and seeking solace in a place that requires me to be calm and tranquil sounds fabulous.

Away from the daily tasks that have become automated like loading the washing machine, planning dinner for next week, shopping lists, school runs, extra curricular activities that are dropped on me at a moment’s notice and are in my head not in my Filofax.

It’s endless.

familyAm I just tired like every other weary working woman who never gets their allotted amount of sleep and because I yearn for solitude and quiet and not the sound of my brain whirring?

I had no idea that having children and a husband would be so unrelenting and exhausting.

What if they left me instead?

I’ve suggested the idea on numerous occasions ‘go and have a male bonding week’ but it fell on deaf ears. No Mum, we can’t go without you, we can’t leave you, we’re not a family without you were their exclamations.

I’m not convinced their responses were indeed virtuous. Very sweet yes, but more like who is going to cook, wash, make the beds and be the general tidy up person rather than have mum around for the sake of mum.

The idea of being gloriously self-absorbed for a week sounds so delicious.

What would I do with this me time?

Would I do the things I want to do or would I end up by sorting my wardrobes, getting rid of piles of stuff, resolve to tidy the garage.

When really what I should be doing is sitting in a café in London watching the world pass by or sketch and paint, pamper myself at a day spa, sleep or simply lie on crisp white linen sheets looking at the ceiling and thinking of nothing.

There’s the thought of laying in bed all day watching TV or wallow in the bath with a bottle of champagne until I shrivel up.

The thought of not having to justify my actions or explain why I do the things I do would feel great.

Would one week of unadulterated bliss make me truly appreciate what I have the other 51 weeks of the year?

Until next time