I once saw myself as a builder of gardens, a maker of a home. As someone who created the perfect environment for my children to grow up in, to learn from, to explore.
Today, I realised that that part of my life is over. The gardens I built for my children to explore and enjoy have been left behind in the detritus of house moves and my marriage break up. Someone else is enjoying the fruits of my labour, if indeed they are even still there…
The perfect home I made for my children is long gone. In its place, three not so perfect houses we’ve lived in, although our current one is very close to the ideal. It can’t, in my mind and heart, replace my “family home”, but it comes close. I appreciate its gifts to us, as I try not to think about its impermanence. Renting never feels secure. This year has been the first in the last three that winter has come and I haven’t had to worry about house hunting and moving. It’s a welcome relief.
It’s not that I no longer want to create a nice place for my children to live. I do and it is the driving force behind everything I do, but the how of it no longer interests me. I long for staff to work out all the hows of my life, letting me focus on the whats and whys. These days my creativity is best channelled into my business, not into making a herb garden, or baking cookies. I get satisfaction from finishing a piece of work for a client, rather than a perfectly pruned rose.
I suspect I am not alone in this. As our children get older and less reliant on us for their survival, we take a step back from their lives. We are no longer involved in every minute detail and for that I am grateful. I love watching my boys make their own entertainment with the space I’ve provided for them. I love not being involved. Every step they make towards independence fills my heart with joy, rather than grief for their baby years. I want to be on the sidelines of their lives – the quiet, yet persistent source of stability and structure, rather than in the centre of every experience.
Sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. I wonder if I’m missing some secret mothering gene, because I am not completely absorbed in my children, as I see other mothers are.
But then I realise that this is my normal. My normal that will let my children grow into themselves and away from me as young adults. My normal that is letting me have a life separate to them and not dependent on their every move.
Today I realised that I will probably never again build a garden from scratch. I might never again enjoy home making or craft.
I never imagined that there could be any more to life, but now I think it’s time to close that chapter and dive fully into the new one.