Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A life of subtraction

I'm feeling a mixture of depression and panic attacks at the moment. My youngest son, Jeff, is moving out of home on Saturday - going flatting in Hamilton (40 mins away, just down the road from university) with his next oldest brother, Simon. I will still see him every week, but it won't be the same. I will miss him so much - his laughter, the discussions about literature, humour, philosophy, you name it. So many things that I don't have in common with my husband, though of course, Mac and I have other shared interests.

It makes me regret my unschooling days in some ways: living this way has enabled me to become good friends with my sons, but they, of course, have to move on and make new friends and new lives. They seem to add and add to their lives, while mine seems to have become a life of subtraction.

I'm trying hard to add to my life, but it feels like things are just slipping away from me, in the same sad, sweet way that, in mid summer on Ngarunui Beach, sparkling black sand slithers through my fingers as I sit with the sun warming my back after an hour reveling in the surf. Speaking of which - I will no longer have anyone to go swimming with more than very occasionally.

The best memory I have of my childhood was of traveling in a train to Wellington. I must have been very little, because obviously I did not have a seat of my own. I remember my father passing me to my mother to have a turn to hold me. I remember snuggling down on her lap and wishing that I could stay on the train forever, so that I could stay feeling loved and cuddled always. I don't remember being cuddled on any other occasion. I know my mother loved babies, so I hope it is my memory that is lacking, rather than the relationship with my mother, but I am sure that hugs and cuddles were not part of my later childhood.

One of the things I have loved about motherhood is the physical contact I have had with my sons. Cuddling babies, pouring more love than I had dreamed I could possibly give into them was even better than being loved. My boys have never gone through a stage of refusing to give me a hug, even in public. What I hadn't realised was that the physical affection I gave them, knowing how much I wanted and missed that from my mother, was, in fact, also filling the hollow place left over from my childhood.

I'm trying not to think of the fact that there will no longer be anyone to give me a hug in the morning and another at night.

I am trying to add to my life.

I have so many things I want to do more of - gardening, book making, and maybe one day I will be able to write poetry again, though at the moment the muse has fled.

Mac and I have enroled in a night class together, which is less of a class than an series of presentations about political / economic / ethical issues - not just because it sounds interesting, but also as something we can do together.

Last term I did a course in beekeeping, and now I am all set up and ready - I just need to find som bees. That may be difficult as I was told by a man who sells nucs that he has had more people looking for bees this year than ever before. It is a scary challenge, but one that will introduce something new to my life.

Bees have already brought something new - or perhaps old - renewed - into my life in the form of the woman who took the night class. She turned out to be M, who I had worked with in 1972, in the Post Office Savings Bank. We had been friends back then, but our lives took different paths and we lost touch decades ago. Now this amazing, strong, alive woman is back in my life and inspiring me with all she has done and become, despite having many bad things thrown at her over the years. She too is soon to have her youngest child leave home, so after all these years our lives have drifted back together.

And I think this may be part of the answer: strengthening the connections and relationships with Mac and with other friends, and perhaps even establishing a few new friendships.

But oh, how I will miss the presence of youth (I already do, with Jeff being pretty independent the last couple of years, and the others having also been gone for years) and the physical, immediate presence of my boys.


skatey katie said...

yes. we pour our lifeblood into these beautiful people and then the buggers go off and make another life.
i really really miss danny.
every day X

Cally said...

((((hugs)))) Kate. Doesn't piss you off how you bring them up to be independent and to make their own choices, but then they don't chose to stay (very independently) with you forever? Hehe. But then I look at people whose children will never be independent, and I know which I would chose, hard though it is to have them go.

Ngaio said...

Thank you for those lovely words - I don`t feel that strong at times, in fact I cry at anything - How to embarrass your teenager, cry at the movies.. hehehe
You will move on from this stage my friend, believe me, it happens.