Back in August I bravely embraced my child, fighting back my selfish tears. He’d travelled the world. He’d gone to university. But I knew that this time it was different. His adult life was about to start and he wouldn’t be looking back. He was leaving the nest for the final time and my heart was breaking.
Fly my boy, fly! May your life be full of joy. Oh , my special one! Words cannot express the depth of my love for you nor my anguish at saying this one goodbye.
As I drove home from the train station I had to pull over, my eyes temporarily blinded by the tears that they could no longer contain. And I let them fall, full and heavy over my cheeks, my head awash with images of Tom. My happy, smiling Tom. Tom. The pain and the beauty of the past, brought back so intensely in the moment, took my breath away.
But now, at the start of October, it’s just bitter.
Because he came back. Why?
Nothing’s changed. He’s still my lovely, beautiful joy of a child. But why did he come back?
Now don’t get me wrong, he can always come back. But to come back when he’d never intended to (and I’d been planning to re-decorate his bedroom and turn it into a workroom) hasn’t been good for him. And, perhaps not more to the point but a consideration to bear in mind, it’s not been good for me either (workroom aside). To see him moping around when he should be out embracing life is painful. I understand his frustration at not knowing what he wants to do with his life. I do. I really do.
But I’ve discovered a frustration equally real.
That is, the very real frustration of the parent of a grown-up child living at home. A parent who knows best. Or, at least, thinks she does.
You could say it’s a sign of the times – grown-up children all over the land having to live with their parents because of student debt, lack of jobs, rising property prices.
I know this.
I also know what Tom could do to prevent this. And therein lies the rub because now he’s back in my house it’s oh so difficult not to tell him this. I’m torn between on the one hand letting him find his own way and on the other, sharing with him the wisdom of my very considerable experience.
I endeavour to do the former as I realise the importance of making your own mistakes but when I see him falter (and that’s the problem, that I can see it ), I resort to letting him have ‘my wisdom’, both barrels. But, looking down just one of the barrels of my experience-loaded shotgun Tom can only see the smoke. What’s happening to my little fun boy?
‘It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it, and that’s what gets results…’
This old Bananarama/Fun Boy Three song has been going round in my head for some days now and it’s only in the writing up of the words that I fully understand why…
It’s clearly time to rethink my approach ( nearly wrote ‘attack’…). I want what’s best for Tom. I want Tom to know this and to understand that I will do all in my power to support and help him.
Maybe I’m not as smart as I like to think I am. ( Cue Dean Friedman song.)
Clearly the overt advice isn’t going down well. Think, think, think.
I know, I’ll make him a cake. And not just a Victoria Sponge. Oh no. A raspberry and hazelnut cake with hazelnut liqueur and mascarpone topping.
This goes down well. I may not be as smart as I like to think I am but I’m smart enough. Back in the parenting game And so, fuelled with maternal zeal, I consider my next move.
And then I have it. A calendar. A Christmas Advent Calendar. Genius! Take that Dean Friedman…Back of the net!
While Tom argues with himself about what he’s definitely not going to do with his life as he doesn’t want to sell out, and he wants to make a difference, and he doesn’t want to be a hypocrite, and he’ll think about doing that job he supposes as a stop-gap, and his arm is twitching, and his work experience is boring and he certainly wouldn’t want to be doing that at the age of 40, and he doesn’t see himself as a corporate type or the type who…. I find that I am surprisingly happy just agreeing and cutting out little felt shapes. Whereas before I might have finished his sentence with ‘the type who earns money?’ now I spend hours nodding supportively, making gently sympathetic sounds, all the while cutting out numbers, squares, holly leaves, berries…
In fact, I decide to show my love for all three grown-up children in the same felt-advent-calendar way. Hmm. Foil covered chocolate coins in the pockets? Tom likes this idea. We think as one.
Where the wisdom-loaded shotgun failed Cake and Christmas prevailed. Up yours Dean Friedman!
The image of those philosophers of yesteryear, Bananarama and The Fun Boy Three, is from the siobhanfaheyrealm.blogspot.com