Monday, 1 October 2012

Washed up on the shores of the future

Stepping out
The year has wheeled and turned, summer is most definitely over and gone, and today the rain has had a relentless quality, insisting on the advent of autumn and the darkening of the days. The all-too-brief Indian summer has disappeared with the morning mist.

Looking into the distance
 The silence seems all-enveloping as I sit in the quiet and listen for the ticking of the clock and ponder on the contrast with the noisy and joyful weekend when my boys flew in for a day, two days, and flew out again, off and away.

It strikes me that I miss most dreadfully the seemingly endless squabbling and jostling of years past, the trail of socks on the floor, the sideboards heaped with homework, and the multiple trip hazards ascending the stairs.

Our meals are no longer large, disputatious events, but sedate little finishings-up of scraps from the fridge. Even the fridge looks bare, with no need to buy 20 litres of milk every week and gigantic catering-size blocks of cheese, or to make two loaves of bread a day.

Christmas is coming ...

We are quite shrunk and denuded, two Aged Ps with one not-so-little Princess, who is more often out singing and sporting and studying than she is at home sitting quietly and amiably at her desk. I have spent many years saying over and again that it takes two to make an argument, and I am now most definitely proved right. The peace and stillness bring that home to me today.

You wouldn't really want us to stay at home forever, they say, and such certainties seem, well, somehow more contingent.

I think back to those Sunday nights when I was the one setting off for the excitements of the world, and departing into the dusk; catching trains and heaving my bags on and off interminably delayed replacement buses, or driving three hours to the back of beyond in the dark and cold without a second thought, always looking forward and never back.

And now I am the one left behind, silently slipping into a new role where I will count down the days to the next visit and eagerly await the considerate phone call dutifully made. I am grateful that I still have one fledgling wanting me to discuss French verbs and common denominators, and after years of firefighting and taking each day as it comes, I begin to think about the importance of setting myself goals, and casting around hopefully for unfulfilled ambitions.

My faithful friend

If only I had the time, I said to myself for so many years, if only I had the time, just think what I could do. Now I can walk the dog for an hour at sunrise, and sew quilt squares together in the wrong order, and knit orphan legwarmers for stumpy legs; my afternoons don't end at three, and my day begins unconscionably early.

And now indeed there will be time, time for me to consider Bergsonian notions of le temps and la durée (as I noted so carefully in my copy of 'The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock' in those years when time was at a premium; I have been rather fond of old Prufrock for many a long year now, and also note with unease a certain personal identification with his plight); perhaps I could learn Latin or sign language (both of which seem rather tempting at this point), or even take those stumpy legs Nordic walking, which would be sure to make them svelte and my socks fall down. Maybe even take photos with the horizon straight.

I'll let you know how I get on.


WinnibriggsHouse said...

Hi, when I first read this post it seemed heart rendingly sad. I hope thats not how you feel. I too have the empty nest now, the bare fridge and the quiet suppers, but my time is beginning to fill again, as is my house and fridge with the new generation whose upbringing I am so lucky to be able to share. I still say I wish I had time to..., but know how lucky I am to have to say that. I hope you seek and find those new experiences and that they bring a smile back to your voice. x

millefeuilles said...

Oh my goodness, Pomona. I promise, now I have read your beautifully penned post, (almost) NEVER to complain about the regular interludes of sibling bickering, the paper hankies trailing on the floor (much to our puppy's delight), the constant reiteration of 'what shall I make for dinner tonight?'

Having my third and last at 41 years old we knew that we were delaying the empty nest for a few years more. I am aware I must keep myself fit both in body and soul to keep up with my feisty two year old. Your thoughts have selfishly brought home to me again how lucky I am.

Thank you Pomona for this. I really, really hope, as Winnibriggshouse commented you are not too sad.


ps I thought autumn was well and truly here last week with the lashing cold rain we'd been having but the dazzling sunlight and warmth has miraculously returned. Have faith.

greenrabbitdesigns said...

I do know how you feel, I too still have my daughter at home having been to uni she then returned home again. Believe me that was a shock to the system having got set in our ways. She does get married next year so will then leave the nest for a second time.
I think finding new things or ressurecting old things to do is important.
However straight horizons are overrated! ;)
Vivienne x
P.S. Thank you for the bunny love. :)

Sweet Posy Dreams said...

Wonderfully written. It's true, when my two (23 and 20) zoom in for a couple of days, things get chaotic and crazy. So much cooking and noise. I enjoy having them, but I don't really mind too much when they zoom out again. I am sad at first, but then I settle back into the routine of two oldsters and a dog. I have learned to enjoy the quiet.

Poppy Cottage said...

I know the feelings you write about. Jose has gone back to London after the summer at home. She has changed jobs so I no longer have her 'student transfer' to force her to come home in the holidays. The boyfriend is also moving up to London, so she'll not be popping home to see him and good old Mum at the same time. Jasper is mainly at his Dad's and A levels are consuming all his available time.

My house seems huge and empty, no longer full washing baskets, and how I miss the socks strewn across the floor!! Quiet and a lonely place.

But, now is my time, to have the peace that I craved for when the bickering got too much, I put a wash on once a week, no longer once a day. (what I would give to hear that noise just once more)

No longer is the loo seat left up.

It is a bit scary when we finally come to the time to re-discover who we are, can you even remember the you before children? I can't.

But I think that as long as we remember we are never far from their thoughts, we will ALWAYS be needed and loved and that it is OK to take that bit of time to discover about us. I agree with he sign language. Something that I have always wanted to learn.

And didn't we do a fantastic job if we raised children that are happy to go off into this world to start their own adventures. Congratulate your self x

Indigo Blue said...

This is so well written that I think that your advice to me about writing a book I shall return that thought to you. Very compelling reading and I understabd what you are saying. I miss having Sophie around even when she is gone to Brownies for an hour or so. She is not a noisey or under your feet type of gal, but just knowing that she is not there is enough to make the corners of my mouth droop.
I crave quiet with my job where I am lucky if I can sneak to the toilet without the phrase "Mam, can I hand my homework in tomorrow" ringing in my ears.
We adjust when we have children and I suppose we have to adjust when they grow and move on. I think our own age makes this harder as we grow older and boy am I trying to resist this feeling as I know that Sophie will one day need me much less than she does know. However a heart to heart Mummy and daughter chat on Sunday suggested that this is somewhere in the distance. I echo the above comments that I too hope you are not feeling too down at the moment.

**Anne** said...

I still have young adult children at home, one studying and working part time and the other at uni full time. A couple of years ago I started doing things that interested me, things I'd not had time to do before when the kids were little. I'm hoping by making small transitions and filling my life with other things will help me cope when they do finally leave the nest.
I hope you find beautiful and wonderful things to fill the void.
Anne xx

Lola Nova said...


Mrs. Micawber said...

Dear Pomona - what a very poignant post. I wish I had some infallibly cheering words for times and feelings like these, but all I can say is this: although the future (and the fridge) look scarily empty just now, I am sure that Something will Turn Up for you.

P.S. Straight-horizoned photos are at the top of my Unfulfilled Ambitions list. If ever you learn the trick, do please share it.

Susan Standen said...

I'll be so old by the time mine are gone I hope I have the ability to dream and plan still intact!

Sarah Jane said...

This post is beautiful...but somehow beautiful yet sad as well.
As the others have said, I hope that you are not so terribly sad and lonesome....
Take care Pomona!
Sarah xo

ps love the spotty pigs

Liz said...

It is such a difficult time when they leave, but it is amazing how quickly life settles into a new routine and wonderful opportunities present themselves!
Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

What a beautiful expression of how you feel- when they are little we eagerly grab every spare minute we can of 'me time' not realising that one day most of our time will be 'me time'!
It's hard letting them go but you've brought your children up to be independent, confident young adults, well done you!
They have left of their own accord, to live their own lives and to make you proud! Ada :)

gilly said...

What a truly lovely post - a touch of sadness, yet too full of hope. Remember that for your children, where you are will always be HOME.

the linen cloud said...

Oh Pomona ... what a lovely post ... if a little sad ... I hope you feel brighter soon ... I am at the beginning of my journey with my little ones ... they are 6,4 and 2 ... your lovely words have reminded me to relish this time ... as hectic as it is ... with my babies for they will be grown before long ... you should be so proud of your strong, confident children and think of all the lovely opportunities your free time may bring you ... don't be sad ... Bee xx

Mise said...

You've described very vividly what everyone tells me is ahead of me, and why I should seize this prolonged chaos of the children's young years and appreciate it. But you seem very good at filling the quiet pleasurably and usefully, and long may that continue.

Tangled Sweetpea said...

Such a beautifully written post Pomona! Loving your photographs too!
Victoria xx

Elizabeth said...

What a beautiful, thoughtful essay on the turning of the year and the turning of our age. Ah, the delights of the season of 'mellow fruitfulness' when one can look back on a busy life. How odd ( and sad) that Keats never enjoyed what is proving to be a very wonderful season indeed!
(I used to teach and be quite frazzled a lot of the time!)

Down by the sea said...

Your words struck such a cord with me with us being in a similar position, and were written so much better than I could ever attempt to do.
It eases my mind knowing the children are happily getting on with their own lives, and visits homes are always something to look forward too. It also gives us the opportunity to take up other interests too.
Sarah x

Lulu said...

you live in a lovely, serene place..beautiful doggie and oh so cute piggies..
take care,

Gillian said...

This beautifully written post moved me and made me sit up and think. My kids are 3 and 5 and my youngest just started nursery, and I feel that my babies are no longer babies, and it makes me sad. And broody. I hope you are not sad. Although a silent house is a strange thing, I can see how that must feel odd. I highly recommend radio 4 in all situations! xx

Katy Cameron said...

Well they say the older you get, the less sleep you need, so that should help with the crack of sparrow fart dog walks... ;o)

Inthesky said...

Oh! Gulp! Thought provoking indeed! I shall make a real effort not to wish it all away! Each time I pick up the socks and the pants will be one less time I will have to do it! (((Hugs)))

Barbara said...

It certainly takes time to adjust to the empty nest, even one like yours that is only half empty. Adjust one does in the end.


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