Saturday, 17 September 2016
WOBBLY TREES AND EMPTY NESTS
"Out of sorts", "off kilter", call it what you will but this last week's just not felt, well balanced.
Eldest daughter has been on a five day residential to Calshot Activity Centre. She's had an amazing time, done some amazing things and embraced every part of her week away. I love her for that. The "empty nest" feeling that has enveloped me all week zapping my energy and my motivation, less so. In fact it has taken me quite by surprise. After all, she's been away before. Being the teenager she is, she makes her own social arrangements, out and about with friends at weekends and school holidays, so I'm used to her not being around quite so much.
But having her not around this last week has all felt very strange. It's probably not being helped by the fact that, as I thought it would, her time of the month arrived on her first full day of activity. This all being very new to her - and me in guiding and supporting her - sent me into a flurry of anxiety akin to her first day at school. It took an equal flurry of text messages between us, mine starting with "Sorry to fuss darling, but..." and her usual "Yeah xxxx" replies for me to feel calm and reassured that she was happily dealing with this new challenge. My motherly instinct wanted to nurture and protect her when all I could do was sit from afar and hope that she would be ok. My best friend, E, reminded me that these times are all about giving them the opportunity to grow; to find themselves and deal with things on their own; it's all part of their learning journey in life and that in a situation where they have to get on and deal with something, they will. I can't help thinking this advice was for my own good as well *coughs*. She is of course right, she usually is!
Next week youngest daughter goes away on her very first activity week away. Confident, bubbly and very organised - SHE has laid out everything neatly in her bedroom ready to be packed - I know she too will throw herself into her week away with her big, smiley enthusiasm. Me, however, my inner pessimist is wondering where her vulnerabilities will lie and how will I feel with this part of my family jigsaw missing.
This will be the first time in ten years it will be just us and our first-born. Back then my time was filled with play dates, snuggling up in her playroom watching endless hours of her favourite "Dora the Explorer" and making sure all her practical needs were met. These days she is far less needy, naturally. L has grown up and is independent. My role has changed and I am needed in a different way. It;s just not sitting right with me yet. My saving grace is that we still love to cuddle up on the sofa and watch a movie together. Precious time I am clinging on to.
I know that for a second week I will be feeling redundant, somewhat without purpose, unrooted. My yoga practice recently has focused on being rooted - quite literally as I wobbled in to Vrksasana (tree pose) in class. But also being mindful in yoga to help you feel rooted. Using the poses and sequences to open and balance out one of the energy centres of the body (chakras), the root chakra which is responsible for helping you feel calm, grounded and able to deal with life. It's a new concept to me but one that already seems to make a lot of sense. Indeed my yoga teacher, Sally, like so many mothers at this time of year is about to see her two daughters head off to University. For her facing an "empty nest" is a much bigger prospect than the small surface I am scratching at. However, it is a shift that will happen in my life as my girls grow up and so trying to adjust my mindset now can only be a good thing in helping me prepare for the coming years. It's not always easy though.
With not quite so much practical responsibilities to my day, no school runs to do, no packed lunches to make, no clearing up of bags/shoes/stuff, I thought I would embrace all the extra time, happily filling it with all the things I want to do. Plans for the business, the Life School course, developing this blog. Paradoxically, time for me is something I always feel I am craving and ever since the girls have arrived I've always placed huge importance on retaining my own identity; yet when handed it I feel stifled and procrastinate - ALOT. That energy and enthusiasm I spoke of here vanished in to thin air and all because I wasn't feeling complete, something - someone was missing.
With L's return yesterday afternoon, a switch was flicked, as if someone had put a new battery in me and pressed the "on" button. Energy, enthusiasm and my daughter all returned.
So this weekend I'm relishing in us all being together. Aside from the usual domestic commitments we can indulge in whatever we want to, happy, content and as one.
As for next week when B departs, I'm not going to make any plans or place any expectations on what I will do with all the extra time. As I've had to learn a lot in recent times, I'm just going to roll with it and accept where the week takes me.
Wishing you all a happy weekend with your loved ones.