It’s not that I thought today would never happen. It’s more that I never realised it was a day that even existed. That it was out there, waiting.
Twenty years ago we brought Christopher home from the hospital to meet his big sister, and then we closed the door and settled down to being us, to being our little family. Over the years, of course, the door has opened and closed a billion times. Letting in friends and family, letting out toddlers and school children and university students and, most recently, gainfully employed adults.
And while Tom and I have just grown older, and wiser, and fatter, they have grown up. They have literally explored the world, had adventures, and triumphs and tragedies. They have discovered who they are and who they were meant to be and what they want out of life.
And, as their parents, we have been lucky enough to have been there, every step of the way, guiding them and watching them and marvelling at them. And, as it turns out, preparing them for today.
Unfortunately, however, I am beginning to suspect that we failed to prepare ourselves. But, then again, is any parent ever really prepared for the day when their family starts to change shape, to spread out, to move on?
For today is that day. The end of an era.
By this evening, Christopher will be on a train, heading back to university and into the exams that he swears he is ready for. And by the time he returns, in just a few weeks, Kimberly will be gone. Admittedly, not gone all that far. Just a few miles down the road. But gone is gone, just the same. Into her own flat. With her own door. A door that will let in family and friends and adventures. And whatever else life will bring her. Just as it should.
But the existence of that new door means that the days of just us, living together as a family, are over.
And while I am completely aware that the fact that we have raised healthy, happy, educated children who are capable of successfully making their own ways in the world, is a cause for celebration, it’s hard to feel 100% happy about it all. After all, I kind of liked the days of toddlers and school children and university students, and gainfully employed adults with fascinating jobs.
Still, I’m trying to look on the bright side. I’ve decided to view this as an example of ‘Successful Parenting’ in the hope that that attitude will prevent me from grabbing them both by the ankles and begging them not to go. I’m confident I can pull it off. Well, fairly confident.
Meanwhile, Christopher has already embraced the positives and has been not-so-secretly making plans for his new room. The one at the top of the house. The one that no one walks past. Ever.
And Tom? Well, he is not a man who sees a glass as half-filled, but rather one who sees the glass as so overflowing that you need waders to walk into the room. And so, while he hasn’t said it in so many words, I suspect he sees today as one that has to be gotten through if he is ever going to reach his ultimate goal – grandparenthood.
But…perhaps…just not too soon.
I am, after all, slowly beginning to realise – and I completely understand that this is a reference which only people from my own time and place will get – that it’s stopped hailing. Guys are swimming. Guys are sailing.
So, while today is a place that I don’t actually want to be in, I have to say that things here in Camp Granada might just be starting to look a tiny bit brighter (if you are under 50 and/or not American, click here ).
And so, while that door is undoubtedly opening up to let her out, it may, just may, also be opening up to some new adventures of our own.
I’ll keep you posted.
Not Leo Tolstoy (aka Eileen Riley)