A Funny Old Game

Well, it’s been a while and I would like to be able to say that it’s because my life has become correspondingly more exciting and busy. I like to, but it wouldn’t be true.

My daughter’s life, on the other hand, has become more exciting and busy than I could possibly have hoped for when she embarked on her gap year travels in March. She spent two months on a language course in Granada and after a shaky start, I would have been satisfied if she had found a couple of friendly faces to help her through and make her time there tolerable at the very least . Instead she quickly became part of a close-knit group of people, who got on so well they’ve already arranged to meet up again in Amsterdam this September. She’s grown in self-confidence to a degree I wouldn’t have thought possible in such a short period of time. The change in her is so marked that when she recently set off on the second leg of her trip (a French language course in Rouen) she coped with moving in with her host family and the chaotic administration of the language school with a maturity she simply hadn’t possessed before going to Spain.

What I hadn’t bargained on however was the hole all this growing up would leave in my life. Yes, of course I’m proud of her – tremendously so – and I always knew that some day she’d leave home. I knew I’d miss her and no, I’m not jealous. Not even I am that mean-spirited. What I’m trying and failing, sometimes spectacularly badly, to cope with is a feeling of pointlessness. I mean I still know WHO  I am and WHAT I am, it’s more a case of no longer knowing what I’m for. I feel as if I’ve been made redundant from a job I didn’t even know I had.

As Chris Stewart put it in the most recent edition of his book ‘Driving Over Lemons’:

‘This has been a tough rite of passage, and nobody tells you about it. You spend eighteen years living your life around, and for, your offspring in the most unimaginably close and intimate way…and then they’re gone. Of course, we get a lot of pleasure from Chloe’s happiness in her new life, and we’re proud of her independence and her making her way in the world. But it’s an odd stage nonetheless.’

(Apologies to those of you who have already been subjected to the above quotation via Facebook, but it sums up my feelings on this subject like nothing else).

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5 Responses to A Funny Old Game

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh, I can already begin to imagine this stage (and I secretly dread it already). GULP.

    Still, it clearly means you have done a fabulous job as a parent. But I understand that this does not detract from the sense of loss.

    Tea and sympathy coming your way…

  2. marshaklein says:

    Lisa, if it’s any consolation, it’s what Chris Stewart says about nobody warning you that particularly struck me as true. At least if I keep maundering on like this all my online friends will be WELL AND TRULY WARNED!

  3. annie says:

    Yes, just what Lisa said – you must have done a great job. But then it’s pretty recent, it must take time to get used to it. Then you’ll be frisking around at the freedom of it all! (I never know what I’m for either, & I don’t have kids.)

  4. marshaklein says:

    Annie (and Lisa): Thanks for your kind comments. I spoke to a friend at the weekend – her daughter spent all of last year in China – and, quite coincidentally, she started to talk about exactly this same feeling of loss, so we had a little weep and then both felt better!
    Annie, I must admit that, in my brighter moments, comes the realisation that things like weekends away will soon be half-price – taking two teenagers everywhere is like having two penniless adults with you all the time – all cost and no (monetary) contribution!

  5. sylvia says:

    There’s a Burt Bacharach song called one less bell to answer. I think it says it all.
    In the cafeteria on campus last September it was full of shell shocked parents having a snack and a drink before heading home.
    I even found myself saying to my husband “Daddy what happened? where did the time go?”
    At least we have two more at home. What it must be like for people onto their youngest or have just the one I simply don’t know.

    But they come back. And bring washing……

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