It’s a little ironic that a portion of my readership for this blog is made up of young people, kids who are roughly the same age as my own children.
On the one hand, I rather like this, and I certainly want to be a good role model, and, perhaps, a bit of a teacher, and maybe a sort of favourite aunt. I also want to write for those readers, and don’t want to feel like I’m excluding anyone from taking an interest in specific blogs.
The irony is that they are the very people leaving all those tragic little nests empty up and down the country.
My older daughter is married and living overseas with her wife. She returns to Oxford in the autumn, and, no doubt, I will see them there when they return, but it’s been a very long time since we were all in the same room. It’s lovely that they are so completely out in the World, but the feeling that they are where they belong doesn’t mean I don’t think about them.
My younger daughter is off to dance college in a few weeks. No doubt she will be home at the end of every term, at least for a while, but, in my experience, when a child leaves home the first time, things are never really the same again.
I loved raising my children. I had the privilege of being a full-time parent. I cannot believe that it is over so fast, and that I am still so very, very young.
What the hell am I supposed to do now?
The truth is that I have a very great deal to do.
The truth is that every book I write has a very real place in my life and in my heart, and it’s nice to have the time and energy to really concentrate my mind fully on my work. When I was raising my kids, it was really all I was doing. I picked up freelance work once they went off to school, but it was only when they took steps towards seeking their own independence that I began to bury myself in my own projects.
Writing, for me, is consuming, and, I suspect that over the next year, at the very least, I will be extremely head-down, elbows out, working all the hours that I possibly can to produce the next book, or, possibly, the next two books. I will need something to fill my mind and my heart, so that I am not left feeling heartbroken, bereft, abandoned when my youngest child finally waves a cheery goodbye and pirouettes off to Leicester.
If I can harness my energies, if I can herd my emotions, this could just prove to be the most challenging and the most productive phase of my professional life, so far. I hope so. It might make up, in some small part, for not being needed, quite so much, for any maternal skills I might have developed over the last twenty years or so.
It isn’t always going to be easy, but my youngest child is excited to be moving on, it’s her time, and she’s ready. I wish her nothing but love and luck.
All I need now is for you to wish me a bit of luck, too.