Sunday, 23 September 2012


Alice 580. Meera Syal once wrote a book, ‘Life isn’t all Ha Ha, Hee Hee’. She wasn’t wrong. I am struggling at the moment and I want my mother. I want to sit down with her over a cup of tea and ask for her advice. Tell me how I should be feeling. Guide me on how to handle the situation. Hold my hand. Let her tell me that this is how it is. Perfectly normal. Not to worry. It’ll get easier. I can’t talk to my friends about it because they are divided. One lot with younger children laugh and say “God, I can’t wait until mine move out. Can’t wait until I get rid of all their toys”. Easy for them to say. They still have little ones, as I do, whose teeth-brushing still needs to be supervised, but whose little tousled heads are safely on their pillows when we look in on them at night. They have no idea what’s ahead of them. I look at my little girls tousled heads and know that I am living on borrowed time. Then there are the other set of friends who don’t say anything because they feel relieved. Relieved and smug that, unlike my son, music and sex didn’t deviate their kids from the path they had planned for them and their investment of time, holidays, home-cooked food, affection, boundaries, support, extra-curricular everything and infinitesimal love paid off, and their university children’s future looks bright and, if not affluent, then at least well educated. I cannot put into words the pain of my son moving out. Oh, I know, I’ve joked. I’ve played the crazy mother card. I’ve shouted and wailed but my heart is actually breaking. It’s so sudden. I don’t feel as though I’ve had time to get the hang of being a good enough mother to him yet. I wanted a longer shot at it. I don’t feel that I’ve had him long enough. In my ignorance I thought that when he did eventually leave home, he’d be prepared. Have wisdoms and philosophies about life that would stand him in good stead. He’d know how to change a plug – a redundant skill these days I suppose. Make a white sauce then. Know to how make a gin and tonic. The reality is though, it is I who is the one who is unprepared. Utterly unprepared. Covert goings on are almost imperceptible. I rang my daughter just yesterday to see where she was. “Cleaning the flat”, she replied. “What flat?”, I asked. “My brother’s”. Another stab. I haven’t even seen the place and my daughter gets to clean it? I’ve tried to help. I put an appeal out there on Facebook to see if anyone had any old furniture that they could donate to them. A sofa was pledged. “Cheers Ma, but no need. We have some beanbags”. Beanbags? With my back and your father’s knees? You’d hope that at times like this, Hubby and I would be a comfort to each other. Alas not. After only a few weeks apart, our relationship, as I very much predicted it would be, is remote. He comes in on a Friday evening grumpy with the long drive and awful job and throws himself on the sofa, surrounds himself with small children and large dogs, eats his dinner, watches tv and falls asleep. I, only to happy to transfer the reins of parental responsibility and never one for taking lightly to being held hostage, leave him there. By the time Saturday mornings arrive, a whirlwind of events overcomes us, leaving us almost breathless with exhaustion. By Sunday evening after more laundry, homework, 11+ tuition, walking the dogs and the preparing, cooking, eating and washing up of Sunday dinner Hubby is once again to be found removing from the tumble dryer his clothes for the following week, his mood gloomy and impenetrable. When are we meant to fit in conversation and romance? To try and redress the balance a bit I visited him this week at his new place of work. For one thing, it’s one hell of a drive and for another it’s one hell of a place. No wonder he’s gloomy. Dreadful accommodation. Dark and pokey and lonely. His office, were he surrounded by colleagues and the buzz of activity that was ever present in his last job might make up for his living quarters, but, there is only Hubby and another man in the whole building. Tumbleweed cartwheels by. We went for dinner. The youngest girls, enjoying a longer bank holiday due to two Baker days, joined us. And that was the sum total. In this enormous dining hall there were the four of us and two stewards and a couple of chefs. “What’s for pudding?” asked Hubby of the steward. “Chocolate fudge cake”, he replied. Cue two very excited little girls. “But we don’t have any”, he added. Cue two very crestfallen little girls. That reply begged a lot of questions. Why offer a pud when there wasn’t one to give; and why, when the staff equalled the customers was there not a pud? I could easily have whipped something up in the time it took us to eat our dinner. It was not a successful visit, although at least I now know that Hubby is telling the truth and not living a parallel life with another family somewhere off the A303. “I read about that once in the Daily Mail.”, I protested when Hubby said I was mad. “Really? Well I can’t afford the family I’ve got let alone another one”. We drove home in rain so heavy it sluiced down the windscreen. I returned home to an empty house. My son and my daughter were at work, our lost boy, lost. My mother should have been in the kitchen of the house next door. My son may feel he does not need his anymore. I need mine more than ever. 10th May 2012

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