I know Annabel and her OH love having the organised chaos of their children (or should I say, young adults) around them, but the opposite appeals to me. I need lots of time alone and so when my son got a job in Europe last year, I was secretly looking forward to some long term peace and quiet.
I think I’ve done my time. Pregnancy, child rearing, nurturing. Zillions of school runs (in my case a round trip of 35 miles twice a day). Like so many other mothers, I was used to keeping one beady eye on the clock during those precious hours when I wasn’t being his chauffeuse. Then there was Son’s belongings -strewn around the house like an insidious snail trail which meant I was forever picking up computer cables, crusty socks and dog eared schoolbooks. Dubstep blaring out from his bedroom, making my poor old brain jangle (although it’s pretty funky music actually). Kitchen cupboards brimming with his favourite foods – salt and vinegar crisps, Pepperbloodyramis, cans of full fat Coke and synthetic Haribo sweets. Then he would be too full to eat the healthy supper I’d taken so long to prepare from scratch. When he was older, lying awake in the wee small hours waiting for the sound of his car and his key rattling in the door, only able to sleep once I knew he was safely back home.
Then I managed to secure him a room in a friend’s house only five minutes drive from his new job in west London. I thought I was home and dry…only healthy food in our house, no more mess – everything in its place and a place for everything. Lots of time to pursue my hobbies, rather than retracing the same old route to and from school. Less washing. Dropping off to sleep at 10pm after the BBC News headlines….. aaaaaah bliss. How naive could I get? On his frequent visits home to West Sussex, he still handed me piles of washing and, constantly hungry, he would stand in front of the fridge and hoover the entire contents into his mouth before not quite shutting the door properly! In fact, if I’m honest, nothing changed much apart from him driving himself.
So, I came up with a cunning plan to remove this 6’4″ 22 year old cuckoo from our nest. At not inconsiderable expense, we refurbished the annexe at the bottom of our garden. Don’t get me wrong, we totally utterly absolutely adore him and this seemed like the perfect solution – he would still be very close to us but his messy belongings would not. Son was over the moon at having his very own place to hang out in when he came back to Sussex. Perfect solution. Marvellous.
Well, it was marvellous for about forty seconds. He still came to the house for breakfast/lunch/supper, arriving (usually late) laden with essential, “cannot exist without” bits of technology (mobile, laptop, iPad, headphones, camera) dumping them on the dining room table, so that he has a free hand to give me his bulging dirty laundry basket.
Then, he got a job abroad. Now I am ecstatic on the rare occasions he comes home – and completely devastated when he jets back to the gloriously sunny place he works. Time flies so damned fast – I can hardly believe we are halfway through 2015 for example – and our children grow up all too quickly. So I am going to stop my petty whingeing about the mess he makes when he comes to visit and concentrate on enjoying having him home with us. So I’m off to the supermarket to bulk buy washing powder…