And then there were two

“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while ……. you could miss it.”

Matthew Broderick; Ferris Buellers Day Off.

Eldest has left home…………. they actually left before Christmas, but it’s taken me a while to face it squarely, an age to clean his old room and even longer to write about him leaving. I have wondered why it has taken nearly five months to acknowledge this. Why, when it’s such a significant moment in both our lives? Some might say denial, some that I am a slow processor – some might even say perhaps it’s not that bigger deal for me. On consideration though I feel it’s because I have struggled to come to terms with the fact that his childhood is over. His leaving home has created a gap. One that no matter how much I try to fill with work or hobbies or through busying myself with middlest and smallest, is still there, gaping, loud and definite. There is also a part of me which is struggling to manage the reality that life is passing by. When children are young, they are with you constantly and to an extent time stands still. Having smallest certainly stalled that sense of aging but now, despite travelling alongside smallest through another childhood – I cannot ignore it. Eldest leaving has reminded me that I am in middle age, and he has reached adulthood. Childhood passes incredibly quickly. With that stark realisation comes a plethora of memories of childhood- the happy times and the struggles that I experienced in becoming a mother; inexperienced, immature and scared. Days spent grappling around for internal resources which I didn’t have but days which I nonetheless filled. Thinking about how and what with, it’s tricky to put it all together. I’ve forgotten a lot. So intent was I on filling their days, that it seems I didn’t stop to see half of them; so, when they come to me with a ‘do you remember narrative’, I’m ashamed to say, no I don’t. Listening to the radio one evening, I caught the tail end of a discussion where the narrator speaks about the slow movement, a group which focuses upon the work of Carl Honoré, who advocated a slowing down of what has become an amazingly fast paced world. Honoré advocates the consideration of slow parenting, a method of child rearing in which the parent allows the child more agency in their days at a pace they are comfortable with. It is juxtaposed with helicopter parenting in which parents are hypervigilant and look to fill up the days and the lives of their children, with a constant stream of activities and through the consumption of material goods. As I write this it occurs to me that how overwhelmed you might feel depends upon many factors, but I suspect of many parents a child leaving home allows them to glimpse the future. One where you will be left with what you began with. Yourself. For now, though that’s a long way off. I am blessed to have them all; still by my side are two others, the smallest of which I watched this morning as he buzzed from room to room, in and out of stories and in between various games. As he stilled, I sat next to him, and I said, “Do you know what, if I had to choose one thing only that I wanted to teach you, it would be to remember just to slow down. I have spent my entire life rushing around and I can’t help feeling that I have missed an awful lot”. So that’s my goal. To stop and take notice. Worry less about what I think I should do and focus on the present; so, the next time this happens it won’t be so difficult to try and remember the life of the child, who has just left home to make their way on their own.

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