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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

gone but not quite forgotten


It being boiling hot, F9 has been drifting round in his dressing gown. Seems he needs no excuse to pop it on, but since this is the child who saw fit to wear 5 t-shirts and 13 pairs of shorts to a barbecue on the hottest day of July one year, despite a face like a tomato, I am no longer surprised.
“I want to be toasty!” he wailed, when I got a fit of the grapples and try to wrestle it off.
He makes you feel boiling just to look at him, and the pinkness of faces all round after the undressing fisticuffs is very princess.
“I need comfort,” he said.
I was sad, too. We all are.

For T11 has gone off on a week’s residential fun (archery to zip-wires) and we have been missing him terribly.
My missing peaked at about 2pm on Monday, which was crazy given that I wouldn’t normally even have picked him for another hour or so.
And we'd only been apart 90 minutes. I had spent the morning trying to make his MP3 player work before conceding that I was too old to continue and couldn't be bothered. I was staring, like Lolly, at bits of metal and plastic which I was never going to understand, and instead loaded all of his favourites onto my iPod Shuffle. It means that I will never be free of The Ping Pong Song but who cares.
So come 2 o'clock, I started mourning and panicking, imagining not gap-5 days, but gap years.
"Best thing for him," my mother said briskly. Try as I might, I cannot imagine her mourning my absence much.
“We have to let go, and at least we know they're all having a nice time; and that helps,” said wise, sensible, grown up friend, stating the bleeding obvious and making me feel foolish.
Something I compounded by clutching my hankie, my comfort rag, and whimpering, “I know all that, but I don’t care. I care about me.”
“You just need to relax,” she said in a way that made me appreciate F9’s need to carry a gun at all times. Just what IS Reasonable Force, I wondered, and what Provocation?

Meanwhile my aunt phoned to say that on Sunday evening, my cousin J had had her 4th baby (the others are 5, 4 and 2).
The house, friends, could not be smaller.
The car needs to be upgraded to a sort of bus.
The husband does not drive.
Even J now thinks that that enough was enough and she was only a day in.
Listening to myself wailing about being down to one, I pictured the nappies, the trailing round of 3 tinies and a baby. The laundry. If contemplating that lot doesn't exhaust you, you are no friend of mine. I glanced around and thought that things weren’t so bad.

I went outside and planted up some tubs for the front. No one came to ask for the computer password to be typed in or roll their eyes over my supper suggestion.

Lolly played football without any bossy child removing the ball from her busy jaws. For once, her game reached a natural conclusion. She collapsed, exhausted from actual toil, rather than it being the only option left to her, bewildered by the irritable re-ownership of the ball, uncertain, with the dim look of one suddenly bereft but of what, she's never sure, but stranded to contemplate instead taking up MP3 management. She snored on the ground, contented. (Her promotion to goldfish grade is pending: she's yet to prove her worth since she can't even swim in circles.)


Grabbing the optimistic end of the stick and things were suddenly all quite pleasant.
Oldest boy, whatever his name is, is missed, most indeedy. His luscious kissable skin for starters; the way his tiny freckles startle you and make you pleased because to see them means you are close to him, and he is so very beautiful that this is most gorgeous, flattering almost. And don't get me started on his eyelashes. My eyes brim...

Please don't tell me I'm relaxing, or I'll twitch for a weapon, but meal times are certainly calmer, there is no sly kicking, one of the other, under the table.
Internecine war does not exist with only one side available for duty, a side who has no need to unleash his inner pterodactyl and lapse into strange squawks (one of many tics to prompt a sad shake of the head from my mother, and a "he's not the ticket, you know") or shriek "T11 did it!" I am forced to wonder if, perhaps, indeed, F9 is right and T11 does do it, sometimes.
With no arguments to pacify, there has been no need for a soothing glass of wine. Really. All week. Easy sobriety.
F9 has no one to tell to shut up or to get lost or to be furious with for closing his tractor catalogue. Moreover F9 is into his 48th hour of speaking properly, without going into enraging loonytunes mode, although he does ask E with OCD frequency if he is contagious. Of what I dare not ask.
There is no peri-teenage ringtone nonsense.
At school, the granite features of two grim matrons fiddling with whiteboards lit up in happy memory of the day their children had left home.
“Sad, yes, for a bit,” said the grimmest, trying to look thoughtful and caring, “but the relief, too!” She and Not So Grim chortled.

It being Thursday I could afford for a teeny tiny chortle to stagger into life around my own lazy chops. After all, he's back tomorrow and the limbo waiting will be over. The nest will be full again and my bad temper can swarm back all content.

F9 looked up at me. "Toasty!" he said, in his best Northern accent.
"Toasty," I said.

33 comments:

Angel said...

Ah Milla-this touched me so much.
Not least because Idle jack trudges round with his dressing gown over his school uniform EVERY morning with the hood up and every morning we try to get it off him!

I miss my boys even if they go to someones house for tea, although Quiet Mousie has not actually stayed overnight yet.

Like you I long to see them but my temper soon returns once they are back in the fold.

It makes me smile to think how similar we are in how we view the boys. I know I can admit to you-we are currently discussing colleges with Idle jack. I'm rather leaning towards a Shrewbury Art College-selfish, I know-I don't want him to be miles away...and I know he won't bear it...

what are we like?

xx

PS-Gorgeous to see photos-brings it all even more alive-your garden is beautiful.

Edward said...

Dear girl - remind me again, how many children do we have? I could have sworn there was another around the place somewhere. In fact, unless I'm very much mistaken, and I'm not, I did swear quite a lot.

Great blog, natch. Even Lolly looks vaguely presentable, though I think all your readers will be grateful that the Internet doesn't come with smell-o-vision.

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh, Milla - I can so relate to your missing and not missing. My own missing was worst at night time, when I would wake up in a panic, thinking I hadn't given him his asthma tablet, then not being comforted at all by the fact that perhaps someone else might have forgotten, too, despite my medicine instruction card written in thick black marker pen and laminated. Then I'd lie awake for hours wondering if it wasn't too early just to give them a quick ring to check everything was ok...

Of course he had a wonderful time, and didn't seem to miss me at all.

Great picture of Lolly, who I have to say, does look rather pleased with herself. She's gone blonde, too. (Aha, edward, but I have my own little brown version providing the full 360 degree smell-o-vision effect.)

DevonLife said...

Our symbiotic lives. My big boy is away from home all week for a time in Bath; swimming, theatre, Indiana Jones and a much awaited trip to Wooky Hole. He is eight! Surely too young to be wrenched away? Leaving with a tuna pasta salad decanted into a carrier bag (don't ask) and a shaming amount of midnight snacks hidden amongst his pants and socks. Who will run his bath? Who will help him get the shower to the right temperature. Who will march him back into the bathroom to scrub teeth and remind him to have one last wee before bed. Mmmmm.

Nice pots.

Frances said...

Hello to you Milla,

How many hours now until The Return? What will be served for dinner tomorrow?

What a really beautiful tribute to both your boys, and to the closeness you all have!

The picture of the flowers has wonderful colors and shapes and textures. Hoping that you are continuing with the gardening Plan, while you clearly are also doing so much wise and witty and, even sensitive writing.

Lolly on the lawn with ball. I bet she gets some pen pals soon.

Have a wonderful reunion tomorrow.
xo

ChrisH said...

Oh dear. I always used to feel pleased to get five minutes to myself, unnatural mother that I am! I love the image of Lolly playing her game wondering what's missing. Still, he'll be back soon then you'll all be happy... except possibly F9 who will have to resume his natural place in the pecking order. Happy reunion!

Elizabethd said...

Lovely garden.

I do remember from the dim mists of time, my daughter going off on horsy holiday, and I was left with 3 males. How I missed her then!

Exmoorjane said...

I actually worry about myself a little in the maternal stakes because, while I'm sure I would miss James in an abstract way, I also have this alarming propensity to forget all about him when he's not here (ditto Adrian and everyone else I hasten to add), just so deeply grateful not to be asked for this or that every other second.
Funny too how I always think it might have been easier to have two than one but you have neatly knocked that idea on the head...
Love Lolly as goldfish. Seriously though (and pray WW doesn't read this) What Is The Point? round, round, round.
Heck, has the week gone already? Yikes, another one with nothing appreciable to show for it. jxx

DevonLife said...

by the way I think eldest left me with something to remind him by. yes. nits.

My mad mop of hair is currently waistlength (yes know I am too old to have such mad long hair, but it grows like chickweed and I haven't had a chance to have it shorn), it's going to be fun in the shower with the comb. sob sob

Crystal Jigsaw said...

God, 4 kids! I sometimes think I had 4 when Amy's at her worst. Then when she's tucked up in bed, dreaming of pinching my toblerone I remember I only went through the agonising pain of labour once. I missed her when she went away for 1 night to a school residential.

CJ xx

Inthemud said...

Strangely, when Lucy was on her residential in IOW a couple of weeks back it wasn't me who missed her, it was Stan, her dad, he kept on and on about, where was she, what was she doing, when would she be back. I just got on with work and things.
Now this fortnight Bex is away, such a relief not to be woken every night on her return from night on th town, loud car exhausts, doors banging, not looking forward to her coming back really. BAD , BAD MOTHER!! That's me!

KittyB said...

I have this all to come, yet somehow I wonder how I'll feel. When S and I slope away for a sly weekend without our boy, I don't miss him that much as I know he's being fed strawberries for every meal by Granny, and we're having a lovely time being grown up. But at home, alone during the day, I think I would spend a long time lying on his bed sniffing his pillow and cuddling his Mr Mole. Too tragic.

bodran... said...

I sobbed onto my steering wheel when soz went to ITALY!! but i had to be brave and i miss nell so much even for a night jacob won't allow me to miss him its far to icky but i do, even more so now he's older and driving .. sob
C'mon ludlow sunday!!i dare you

elizabethm said...

I was with Chris on this one. Missed mine a bit but loved, loved, loved the fact that I could do something without being interrupted all the time. A week is quite long enough though, any more and they might forget you.

blogthatmama said...

In our house if one goes away then we all miss them a bit but I do enjoy having time with the remaining one. I don't ever miss the fighting and arguing either. Also very difficult not to talk to them and say goodnight on school trips as mobiles are banned..

HER ON THE HILL said...

Don't get me on the subject of children growing up - I'll cry! I dread it. Jeremy Vine (radio 2, of course) did an item on it the other day. Lots of mixed emotions. I love my 3 and they're great together, but yes, when I have just one on her own, life is so much simpler.

Good to see that in my absence you've mastered the upload pictures button. This suits my nosiness perfectly. Nice border. Nice pots. Nice kitchen.
x

Pondside said...

It's coming on to Friday morning now over your way, so he must be on his way home - full of stories and changed in a way that only you will be able to see. He'll smell different too - at least mine did.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

"... a fit of the grapples ...". Nice and very evocative. I think it says something of my parenting style that it was usually a fit of the wipes in my case.

Cait O'Connor said...

Missing your son will not diminish, we are joined to our children, it's an umbilical thing. Stating the obvious, sorry.
Great blog as ever Milla.

Expatmum said...

I wish I could try it - just once! I am looking at a month travelling around England with three of them, on my own!
Your blog Milla, has just given me my weight loss answer. Since I know if I stopped having a few glasses of Pinot almost every evening that would probably do the trick, I obviously need the serenity of a house minus at least one child!

Potty Mummy said...

Isn't it interesting how once you separate them out, behaviour improves exponentially? Divide and conquer works, it seems...

Pipany said...

What's going on here - pictures?!!! Very lovely they are too Milla.

Know all about the missing them thing, even when you are quite enjoying the break. Haven't seen a thing of Tom (25) for weeks it seems and beginning to forget what he looks like - doesn't he know that a mother needs to see her 1st born once in a while just to check they are eating/sleeping/washing...? Oh ok, I am joking here but I do know where you are coming from! xx

Dusty Spider said...

I can remember that lost feeling when one offspring goes off on a school trip. A mixture of, "thank goodness for some peace and quiet" tinged with, "but I miss him so much." Daft, us Mums eh! It's always hard to let go, but let go we must. Hugs. Flick x

Preseli Mags said...

I laughed at the "...a fit of the grapples..." comment too. H6 and R4 haven't been away from home overnight yet, but it can only be a matter of time... Gulp. I loved the pictures of the pots and of Lolly too.

Maggie May said...

Its the same with grandchildren. You can miss them like mad when they aren't there, but the moment they come bursting in through the door the peace is shattered & we realize just how peaceful it was! Strange mixture of emotions!
Love your potted plants & your garden looks lovely!

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

Ah the little darlings, Milla, how do we manage without them? Just wait and see how quickly you get back to normal.Whine and all.M :-0

the mother of this lot said...

Much as I whine about them, I'm never really haapy unless they're all in the house.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Eeeeeek know this feeling - Wildchild phoned tonight and we were laughing about her temper tantrums caused by low blood sugar every day and the hell we all went through when she came home from school. Love them, miss them . . . let them go and love them all over again . . . but you never stop worrying.

Fennie said...

What a (I was going to write lovely, may still write lovely but your style infects me and I fear that if I write lovely I shall be clobbered by some unseen hand and besides when I am so late with commenting on your blogs and so feel guilty and a bad penny the word lovely does seem a trifle patronising and glib as though I haven't bothered to read the thing properly and then again you might think that lovely was a contraction or an expansion of Lolly and this would never do so I shall just have to fine some other adjective to describe your mesmerising writing, but I can't think of anything so I will just have to duck and say....)lovely blog! Fxx

Casdok said...

My eyes brimmed reading this, missing children can be so painful.

Your tubs look beautiful :)

Lane said...

These flaming zip wire holidays are everywhere. We have one coming up in October. Am I looking forward to it? One part says 'you bet'. The other says 'nooooooo':-)

I love Lolly:-)

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

lovely. and funny. and reminiscent of being told as a child: take that jersey off, you're making me feel hot. Or as i say to own children now: put a bloody jumper on, i feel cold just looking at you!

CAMILLA said...

Lovely pics of flowers in your garden Milla, and cannot help but say..... gorgeous photo of darling Lol.

xxx