Saturday, January 01, 2011

Looking forward, looking back

I'm snuggled in bed with Theo the kitten purring loudly on my chest - and with just a few minutes of typing time before he launches into another round of Kill the Cursor, his new favourite game. Maybe time, then, for a quick round of Janus, a reflection on 2010 as it vanishes in the mist behind me and just a quick glance at what might lie ahead...

2010 was the year I'd been dreading for so long.
24 years ago, when my DD Hattie Gandhi was first placed in my arms, I threw myself heart and soul into motherhood and from then on a large part of the landscape of my life was defined by my children, shaped by their needs, enlivened by their joys...Of course I knew (and know) that they were simply "on loan", that however precious the ties, however deep the connections, my task as a parent was to work myself out of a job, to make my children ready to manage life in a world which, one day, will not include me at all - and over the past 5 years I've been learning what that process really feels like as each in turn moved from school to university.

Helpfully, of course, those 5 years also saw my own transition from curate to incumbent - so that instead of the responsibilities of nurturing and launching 3 young adults I gained responsibility for 2 radically different communities, their spiritual welfare, their exploration of God in the every day....Despite this, though, I was dreading autumn 2010 when my younger son, blogname The Dufflepud, would depart for university and my firstborn would complete her MA and step out into the adult world of work.Because my own parents died when I was 18, this whole chapter is uncharted territory - I don't even know how NOT to do it (though I guess I'd suggest that the approach my parents inadvertently adopted is probably not the ideal!!).

So - 2010 loomed, black and scary on my horizon for quite a long time....the knowledge that I would turn 50 (which certainly sounds grown up, even if it doesn't feel it) compounding the problem. Surely I'd emerge from THAT year a radically different being - assuming there was anything left of me at all.

If that all sounds rather silly - your view of the situation is entirely correct!
Yes, 2010 saw the departure of the "last child" but though I miss them all inordinately, there are so many other things crowding into my life, from chickens (the birthday present that asserts each day that life begins at 50!) and the Christmas kitten to a whole raft of new and interesting jobs within the diocese, and new connections and relationships within the parish too. The few evenings when I was home alone last term (I think there may have been 4 all told) were blissful islands in a sea of busyness, rather than bleak little encounters with a lonely world....I even managed a few evenings with dear and special friends, and a spot of proper cooking...and I met a whole collection of new chicken-keeping friends with whom to share. I coped, I really did - and even enjoyed myself!

Yes, my children were STILL responsible for the highlights of the year - the wonderful surprise birthday party that gathered so many loved and loving people that the whole evening was an exercise in counting my blessings in human form - the pride at Hattie Gandhi's wonderful MA distinction - the joy in meeting and coming to love Hugger Steward's GF - the delight in hearing of new discoveries, new interests as the Dufflepud settled into university.
But perhaps the greatest joy of the year was one that came from near-disaster, when the Dufflepud missed his grades for his first-choice university. He and I were both shell-shocked, and a bit of me just wanted to wail and gnash my teeth at an unkind universe....His siblings, however, are made of stronger stuff and between them looked after both his practical needs - sorting out a kind of "Cabinet War Room" to help him negotiate the complex process of UCAS Clearing - and the more sensitive issues of self esteem in a family where A grades have been almost taken for granted. The way the children operated that day was perhaps the best gift in a year of many gifts - for they showed me in everything they did that they were indeed the sort of caring and competent adults that I longed for them to be - and that, when the time comes, they will indeed look after one another.
So maybe 2010 was indeed the year that I grew up - and it turned out not to be so frightening after all!

2011 - who knows? But whatever lies ahead, I've some wonderful people travelling with me - and more Love than I can imagine leading me on.


Jules said...


Really lovely, friend.

Songbird said...

So happy to know you and be able to picture your children, even though we are all a few years older.

stf (Lorna) said...

thank you for sharing this ... I don't read you often enough nowadays but I'm glad I found this post

hugs to you

stf xx