Times they are changing

My daughter is now sixteen years old, a fact which gives me considerable pause. I have spent much time over the last two decades doing things for the family I am blessed to have around me. But have I used that as my excuse to not do things for myself? Probably.

There must be many people in my position, who surround themselves with details and preoccupations that put them at several removes from the concerns and convictions nearest their hearts. So how do we get back to the things we really, really want to do, instead of staying half-heartedly with those things we think we ought to do first?

I am guessing that most of us will wait until our kids have grown up, and we have a lot of time and space, before we sit back and reflect, remembering what we enjoyed doing before parenthood came along. We’ve all heard about the ‘empty nest’ syndrome, which apparently leaves parents bereft without their usual caring role.

With that in mind – I’ve done a lot of intense grieving these last few years and it is hard work – I have been letting my daughter leave me gradually, mourning and celebrating her passages into youth and adulthood in the small rituals with which growing up is sprinkled: the first time she walked to school by herself; the first time she went to town alone on the bus; the first time she was away for the weekend with a school party…

With suitable safeguards and many sage warnings, these small moments when I realised, “She can manage without me, now,” have paved the way for the recognition that I must honour her freedom – and the rest of my life – by now being meaningfully busy with my own projects. That I can do.

Thanks for listening.  

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