Posted by: Admin | August 19, 2011

They come, they go

My Hallway - the scene of many a "hello" and "goodbye" (he looks impressed, doesn't he?)

I seem to spend a great deal of time greeting and good-bying in this hallway (hey – I made up a verb!) This is Son No.2, packing his bag after a visit home.

I’m finally learning to take each day as it comes and live in the moment. I think it was John Lennon who said that life is something that happens when you’re looking for something else. At the end of the day, that’s what life is, isn’t it – the moments that make up our days and weeks and years?

Life has ensured that Son no.1 has learned that lesson early – one small bonus in a life-changing upheaval. I watch him make the most of every second he spends with his children and find myself hoping for that state of grace to spill into other areas of his life.

We learn so much from our children. I find myself continually (and by turns) inspired, exasperated, filled with pride, humbled, awed, supported, consumed by anxiety and  infused with joy by mine. (No wonder I’m so bloody tired!)

I’ve spent too much of my life trying to bend myself into shapes to conform to imagined norms. When I gave up work to care for them in those early years, I fretted that I wasn’t earning, nor living up to my feminist principles. When I was writing through the night I felt guilty that half my mind was composing stories while I was in the park with the kids. If I have one regret about my time as a mum, it’s that I allowed anxiety – about real things such as how we were going to pay the mortgage and my daughter’s health, and imagined things, like “what ifs” and “am I good enoughs” -to take my mind away from the moment I was in. I see young parents with their kids in the park chatting into their mobile phones and I want to shake them and say: you have a lifetime to talk on the phone – be here now with these little people that need you. They’ll be gone soon enough.

Now, at fifty, I don’t have time for regret. I’m learning to slow myself down at points during the day to consciously immerse myself in what I am doing, and to give my attention to the person I am with.

Years ago, my grandmother sent me this little poem, cut out of the letters page of a women’s magazine. My husband subsequently had it written out and framed and it hung, (not entirely unheeded, as anyone who visited the chaos that was my home at that time will testify) on my wall for years. I would like to see a copy inserted into those little packs they give new mothers in hospitals. Maybe fathers could have it tattooed up their arms instead of their children’s names 😉

I hope when my children look back on today

They remember a mother who had time to play

There will be years for cleaning and cooking

Children grow up when you’re not looking

So quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep:

I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.



  1. Fantastic words Jo, very inspiring, I think its easy for us all to sometimes forget that these special moments with our children will not last for ever, Im already noticing my 8 year old trying to spread her wings and i have to be careful not to clamp down on them, but try and be a part of her growing and gaining confidence. As you are aware from my home I stopped dusting a long time ago!!, but more because work got in the way. The past couple of weeks have taught me that time with your children costs nothing and they will always remember it. With love to you and all your family 🙂 xx

    • Bless you, I’m sure you’re doing a great job! We’ve all seen the effect a “Smother” has on her children, haven’t we? Being able to let go is the one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. x

  2. Too true, and whilst your family may well write on your headstone “She was a loving, caring mother etc”, they will never write “She always kept up with the laundry and the dishes. We were never without underpants”

  3. thanks Jo—good reminders…and the hallway pic was poignant since my two older daughters are home for just a short few weeks before moving on to “the next thing” in each of their lives (one to the opposite side of the world for a year)… greeting and “good-bying” is definitely bittersweet!

  4. Hi Jill – just reading back through comments and wondered where your daughter is now? Mine is icurrently in Morocco, then off to France for 6 months. Aren’t they brave? X

  5. Brave, indeed, Jo… Middle daughter has moved to Texas to spend time with her brother for a few months before starting a 6-12 month internship with a wildlife rehab center and animal sanctuary. (Only one state away from me…but with these gargantuan western states it is 15+ hrs of driving away!!)

    Oldest child/daughter is settling in to her new job in Astana Kazakhstan as a librarian at the National University. She is thrilled to have found work there and I’m happy for her…but certainly miss knowing she is a quick plane trip away from home…I’m sure you can relate!

    What is your wanderer doing while she is away?

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