It was my birthday over the weekend. I woke to a still house. Silent. First light filtered through a crack in the curtains and shone a spotlight on the empty space at the bottom of the bed where once small children would bounce, clutching handmade cards decorated with indistinguishable drawings.
“Wake up Mummy.”
My heart would be filled with love as I’d eat a breakfast they’d lovingly prepared – “of course smarties taste good with cornflakes”- before unwrapping gifts fashioned from empty yoghurt pots and cardboard toilet roll tubes.
Two of my three children have grown. One has already left home, another due to go to uni in September.
As I lay there I felt such a fierce longing for simpler times. For sticky marmalade kisses and time that seemed to stretch endlessly.
Where had their childhood gone?
The day was lovely. I had a fabulous lunch with my whole family and yet still I felt oddly unsettled.
Sometime. Somehow. There’s been a shift in the fabric of my relationship with my older kids and as I watched them leave after dessert, going back to the grown up part of their lives I was not included in, I was inexplicably scared it was all going to unravel. The invisible thread of love that binds me to them might stretch and stretch until one day… would it snap altogether?
And then I got a text – dinner, Mum?
Saturday found us crowded around a table sharing tapas, before heading to a bar and there was another shift in dynamics. A Saturday night drinking cocktails with the people I love most in the world.
It’s a different stage of parenting, swapping Calpol for vodka. Baby rice for bar snacks, and it wasn’t better, or worse. Just different. And I realised as we hugged at the end of the evening and went our separate ways that the invisible thread is strong enough to span years and miles and oceans and it will always, always remain unbreakable.
My heart will forever be filled with love.