This year has felt a bit like a marathon so far – one run wearing only one shoe and a too tight sweatband round my head. We’ve got to the end of school more by tripping over our own laces than demonstrating a triumphant sprint, but I guess it’s the same finishing line however you get there.
GCSE year is tough for teens, and their parents, if you ask me. It’s boring and repetitive and the exam weeks just seem to go on forever. I became pretty good at working out where T’s head was at. Sometimes she needed a hug, sometimes a kick up the bum, sometimes chocolate. Same went for me really. After the exams I thought she’d take a break, but no she carried on guitar lessons and orchestra, auditioned for the school play, did a spot of engineering work experience, applied for an internship, completed some e-learning and still found time to listen to four million podcasts. Plus of course a prom outfit was worn, pink DMs were broken in and sixth form induction happened. Oh and she’s currently away on NCS being independent and learning how to kayak. I’m sitting at home eating hob nobs.
Anyway as a result of all these rites of passage and steps towards independence, I’m having an existential crisis. I’ve realised that my role as a Mum has shifted dramatically. I blinked and I’m just not needed in the same way anymore. I’m surely only a moment ago I was bemoaning endless hours sitting in the boiling gallery of a swimming pool or standing outside brownies waiting to pick her up. There was always something happening that I needed to be involved in and now things are just happening without me. Which is right and good but, now I stop to think about it, quite disturbing.
Of course I’m still important in T’s life it’s just now I spend more time watching Catastrophe with her (and explaining why ‘no it isn’t terribly likely Sharon would keep getting pregnant by accident but it is possible’) than I do reading to her or helping her bake cupcakes. Her younger sister needs me a little more but she’s a better baker than me, and really good at arranging her own social life, so I’m pretty sidelined some days. If either of them learns to drive I’m screwed as that’s currently my USP.
This morning P told me she was a bit worried about going into Y10 and that she couldn’t believe she was going to be 15. I said ” when you’re 15, T will be 17″ and we both looked at each other in horror. I know the point was to raise strong independent women but I can’t really accept that being strong independent women needs to happen just yet.
I should be proud and I am really. Proud of these amazing young women. Proud of us goddammit because it’s flipping hard work. But I’m also feeling really quite sorry for myself. They don’t need me in the same way already and that’s going to get worse. What do I do next? I can’t go back to university because who has 11k kicking around? And if it was a hobby I wanted to take up I’d have done it already (and I’ve tried a few). We can’t travel round the world because, well, we will be paying for the kids and this mortgage forever (not to mention the electric bill). Anyway I’ll leave that dilemma for another day because if I think too hard about empty nest syndrome (or even half empty nest syndrome), and how the hell I’m going to cope I’m likely to combust.
At least it’s the summer. I can hear the chatty hubbub of two teenage girls upstairs, and I promised fish and chips when T gets back so a walk up the hill will be required and we’ll have to pay so we are still needed for something after all. Plus there will be an almighty pile of washing to do. You never know, I might also be needed for the odd hug from a tired young woman who’s been away all week…