A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parenting. Show all posts

Friday, 25 March 2016

Home for Easter

Empty nest, parenting, EasterDaughter Olivia is on her way home as I write this post. Sophia is already here after we collected her from uni last weekend. Last Sunday was a very long day and this meant that we have been tired for most of the week. Not that we shared that with our daughter obviously. To our kids, we'll always be mum & dad and therefore capable of anything.

I anticipate chaos during the week ahead as we adapt to living together as a family of four all over again. Sophia will work on final pieces for her degree show in May; Olivia, on her dissertation. There will be mess and mayhem, laughter and tantrums as I try (and fail) to keep everything afloat.

I read a fabulous post from Suzanne over at Chickenruby earlier in the week. What Happens After Your Kids Leave Home? summed up rather beautifully what it's like to live without your children once they're all grown. It resonated well with thoughts about my own daughters.

It's taken a while to settle down, but since my daughters left home and went to university we've got used to sharing our home with a cat who thinks she's in charge. I juggle 2 part-time jobs. Keep the house going. Find time to read. Enjoy long soaks in the bath. Go out for leisurely breakfasts with my husband. Attend local music nights. Spend time with friends. And secretly enjoy my own company more than I ever thought possible.

Having to factor in the needs of four all over again comes as a shock. I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming selfish in my old age - but it's rather lovely to be able to do all those things I haven't had time for since becoming a mum. I love my daughters more than anything, but accept that they need to live their lives and enjoy their own space. When they left for university in 2013 I couldn't imagine life without them, but now, I love that my daughters are capable of being independent - it kind of validates your role as a parent doesn't it?

For now, I'm mum all over again. Cakes are baked, the freezer filled, cupboards stocked and Easter Eggs hidden. I anticipate the car never being on the drive, the house unravelling and not being able to find what ever I'm looking for. The laundry basket will overflow, plans change at the last minute and I'll be up to date with the latest chart music.

When they leave, I will miss their company and the laughter that fills the house when they are here. 

As both daughters finish university in June, I have to get used to sharing the house all over again. Sophia's off to the US for 3 months and plans on completing a TEFL course and heading off again after that. Olivia's home for the summer at least. Who knows what will happen next? She returns to uni early for work experience at a newspaper and is busy applying for jobs.

Whatever happens I'm exceptionally proud of my girls and all that they have achieved. But just like Mummy Pig in The Three Little Pigs, I know that it's time for my daughters to make their way in the world and believe that this is the ultimate goal any parent could possibly hope for.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


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Monday, 27 July 2015

No Matter What...

Parenting, teens, no matter whatThe weather was horrid yesterday and so we abandoned our original plans to visit Blenheim Palace and walked into town for breakfast and a paper instead. On the way, I stopped off at Sophia's former rowing club with a batch of cakes for the crew to share and then stood in the rain to watch practise. This took me back to umpteen mornings watching Sophia row in all kinds of weather, and made me realize just how much I miss the little things about life with my daughters. Things I didn't think I loved at the time.

As we arrived at the cafe, rain had set in for the day. We'd just ordered our food, when a dad wandered in with his own teen daughter. Both dad and daughter were soaked through. The girl reminded me of my daughters and of the many times when a parent just can't seem to diffuse the mood and every word uttered serves only to infuriate them even more. I guess there are no words for these moments; it doesn't mean that we don't try.

'Do you want something to eat?' her dad asked, thinking maybe that sustenance might improve his daughter's mood.

'No,'she replied.

'Are you sure?' he added, hoping that she would change her mind after asking for the second time. This infuriated her even more.

She sat sulking in the corner and was eventually cajoled into ordering hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows, while her dad ordered an Americano coffee and a full-English. The girl continued to mope as her dad pulled out all the stops and tried to cheer her up. Once breakfast arrived, he fed her scrambled egg and bacon. She finally cracked a smile and started to talk to him.

I've lost count of the number of times I've attempted similar feats with my own children. I was never convinced that this was the best course of action, but seeing my daughters unhappy always tugged at my emotions and awakened a need to make everything better. Foolish, I know.

And someday they all have to figure this out for themselves, but when they're caught somewhere between adult and childhood, it's important to remind yourself that you're the grown-up, while they're still in training. They will get there in the end and turn out to be remarkable young adults.

I miss my daughters more than they'll ever know and the house feels empty with the two of them away for the summer. Later this week I plan on borrowing my twelve year-old nephew and taking him out for the day. He turns thirteen soon and I smile as I watch my sister interact with her son. It's not easy being the parent of a teen. There are days when it feels like nothing's going as it should and you feel like throwing in the towel and helping yourself to a lunchtime G&T. But what's important is going to watch practise in the rain, being there for your child no matter what, and realizing that these are the most important things of all.

I'd wondered why my sister was thinking of getting a dog; the quote from Nora Ephron that I found to accompany the post answers that question really rather well.         

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton

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Sunday, 5 July 2015

A Cautionary Tale for the Uninitiated Parent - Part One

When both daughters left for university, I imagined that our parenting conundrums would be over. Surely our daughters would discover new found wisdom and fathom out the minutiae of life in the real world with only minimal input from their parents once they'd left home?

With our role as full-time parents drawing to a close, we filed our memories under, 'Nice while it lasted, but now they're all grown, I guess it's time for us to move on.'

I continued to miss my daughters more than they'll ever know, and often found myself in their bedrooms contemplating what it means to be a mum with young adults for children.

The honeymoon period was delightful, but after only several weeks, one daughter required assistance. Naturally, we dropped everything to help her.

Although our services are called upon less frequently, an entirely different set of skills is required. This often results in advanced problem solving, brain ache and the need for several bottles of wine that you tell yourself are entirely medicinal.

                                                        ***


We are just back from moving beloved daughter no. 1 into new digs. As there was an entire week before moving out of her old house and into the new, we booked an apartment overlooking the sea and thought we'd enjoy a holiday at the same time.

It started with an innocent enough, 'Mum, C has nowhere to stay.' We'd met C on several occasions during previous trips to see our daughter and she is truly lovely. And so, our automatic response was to say, 'Yes,' and help out, obviously. Someday it might be your daughter who's in need of assistance; you'd like to think that someone would come to her aid.

On day one, filled with enthusiasm, we were ready for the off by 5:30am. After a fabulous journey with minimal traffic, we're on the beach by 10am, making the most of a hearty breakfast in the beach cafe and feeling very smug indeed.

We arrive at our daughter's accommodation and discover mounds of belongings heaped in the lounge, hall, kitchen and both bedrooms. Nothing is packed. And somehow, the realisation that these mounds have to be moved today, into our gorgeous apartment hits like a not-so-subtle brick.

After checking in and emptying the car of our tiny suitcases, we make a further three journeys to round up their errant stuff and move in.

In doing so, we hog the lift for a very long time and intermittently, a load arrives at level two along with a complete stranger who is too polite to do anything but help and reminisce about similar experiences with their own offspring. I am grateful for their patience and the realisation that there are people who are benevolent and generous with their words and time.

After lugging the stuff down the corridor, the apartment looks as though it's been ransacked. I vow to make it look gorgeous again just as soon as I can summon the energy.

Saturday's dinner is a very delicious fish and chips overlooking the harbour, followed by falling asleep over a large glass of (medicinal) Pimms and the earliest night I've had in ages.

We're up early on Sunday morning and off to the beach in search of cowrie shells, shrimp and solitude. Is there anything more lovely than time at the beach I wonder?

After a busy morning beachcombing, we head back. Only, we can't get into the apartment as we're locked out. Between the four of us, we have three pairs of shoes, an assortment of shells and sea glass, some loose change and no phone. Weighing up our options, we discover that none of the neighbours are in. Our daughter gets the giggles and we are both cross with her. Only we keep our thoughts to ourselves as we don't want C to think we are horrid.

There are images of calling a locksmith and having to gain permission from the owner and the rental company. Obviously, we'll have to foot the bill. To add further insult... we're all famished.

Out of the window I spy a car pull up and an unsuspecting neighbour returns to her apartment. I ask for a hug after she announces that she has a spare key and buy our saviour the biggest bunch of flowers I can find the very next day....

Part two is posted. You can read it here.

Until next time...


Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
Image credit: Pixabay
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Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Bon Voyage


Bon VoyageWe're awake a little after midnight and heading down the M40 in no time at all. I'm not convinced of the merits of a couple of hours sleep, but I may have dozed a little, (unlike my daughter) and keep reminding myself that I have work to do once I arrive home.

Sophia bumps into a friend from university at Beaconsfield services which is slightly surreal at 4 am on a Friday morning, but they compare notes and fond farewells before we rejoin the motorway and head towards the M25. We arrive at Terminal 2, Heathrow and Sophia spies several Camp America T-shirt clad teens and twenty-somethings. They're all travelling to different US cities, but stick together anyway and talk of plans for the next three months. I guess this is how the summer will unfurl - they'll get used to talking to new friends with shared interests and support each other throughout. 

I have no idea how you're supposed to feel saying goodbye to your daughter for three months - but there's excitement mingled with apprehension. I hope that Sophia will stay safe, be happy and have a summer filled with adventure. When you head home with your newborn baby - you never imagine that someday she'll grow up and go exploring all by herself. Our children are not ours to keep however, and I have to remind myself that Camp America will be the first of many adventures.

After check-in, Sophia delivers a final hug and heads off to departures with new friends. The group have waited for everyone to get through check-in before leaving en masse, which is sweet. One hug is not enough with my daughter, but I manage to restrain myself, 'Have a great summer,' I say, but she's already gone and just like her first day at school, she doesn't look back.

We return to the car and leave the airport. Stopping for a crazy-early breakfast at a service station and arriving home again in time to start work. Who needs sleep?

Sophia has two flights, the first to Chicago, the second to Portland in Oregon. I check the flight status several times during the day and hope that my daughter is sleeping; by the time she arrives at camp she'll have been up for almost 48 hours. Why is it that she's never mastered the art of sleep before flying anywhere in the world? She's been the same ever since she was a toddler - this has always driven me slightly mad.

At time of writing I still haven't heard from my daughter... I'd been warned that the chances of finding a signal in the middle of the woods in Oregon was almost zero. This doesn't make it any easier. The eight hour time difference doesn't help. I've gone old school and written her a letter that will take between five and seven days to arrive. If all goes to plan she'll head into the nearest town at the weekend and find an Internet cafe - maybe we'll even get to Skype. I guess she's busy having fun and making new friends, which is exactly how it should be.

For now, it's just me, the cat and Mr A for the summer. I plan on borrowing my nephew for a few days as the house seems too quiet and the cat's already cross with me for scooping her up and extracting too many hugs.


Until next time...

Copyright©2015 Izzie Anderton
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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Remote Parenting for Dummies

Hot off the plane from Paris last weekend and I was straight into a temporary contract working for a local company for the next couple of weeks. With our beloved daughters still at uni, I found myself looking forward to the challenge and have to confess that I'm really enjoying it. We had mentioned to our beloved daughters that we'd both be busy, and not to make plans that involved either of us. In hindsight, it may have been better if we'd said nothing at all.

Sophia has applied to work abroad during the summer. She learnt while we were in Paris last week, that she'd been given an upgraded status on her application. This means that she may have to leave the UK with only 3 days notice. Consequently, there's a panic on to get a work visa from the US embassy and she's on tenterhooks in case the placement doesn't actually come off.

This is how the week has panned out so far:

Saturday night (late)

Arrive home to a huge pile of post in the hall, including a tonne of stuff that needed to be sent to Sophia while we've been away. On the answerphone is a frantic message instructing us to call her as soon as we're back.

Sophia, 'Hi Mum, what time do you call this?'
Me, 'It's midnight, and we've just arrived home.'
Sophia, 'I need the documentation so I can make an appointment at the embassy.'
Me, 'I'll send everything off via recorded delivery on Monday. Hopefully, it'll be with you on Tuesday.'

Sunday

Sophia, 'Will you come down to London with me next week?'
Me, 'No, I'm working.'
Sophia, 'Can't you take the day off?'
Me, 'No, because I'm only there for a couple of weeks and that wouldn't look very professional.'
Sophia, 'Oh.'

Monday

Sophia, 'Mum, have you sent the documents?'
Me, 'Yes Hun, sent first class, so they should be with you tomorrow.'

Tuesday

Sophia, 'Mum, I haven't received the documents.'
Me, 'They're probably in the post room, go and check tomorrow. If they haven't turned up, call me.'
Sophia, 'My internet's not working, can you ask Dad to call me?'
Me, 'OK, but I'm not sure what he's going to be able to do from 150 miles away.'

Wednesday

Phone ringing as I arrive home (late) from work.

Sophia, ''I'm just filling in my online application and need all the dates of my previous travel to the US.'
Me, 'I can tell you the months and the years, but finding the actual dates is going to take a while.'
Sophia, 'Can you let me have them as soon as possible? I need to do this now.'
Me, 'Yes dear, there's nothing I'd rather do for the rest of the evening. Have your documents arrived by the way?'
Sophia, 'Yep, thanks Mum.'

Spend rest of evening tracking down elusive dates and email 3 hours later with, 'Mums are amazing & take payment in hugs,' in the subject box.

Later that night...

Phone call from Olivia, 'You are coming down to help me move aren't you?'
Me, 'Hopefully, yes, but you haven't given me the date.'
Olivia, 'It'll be sometime in June.' Or, if I can't move into my new house right away, you might have to book 2 hotel rooms and I'll stash all my stuff in mine until I can.'
Me, 'Great, keep me posted.'

At this point I have a headache and retire for the night with a large glass of wine, promising that if the phone goes again, I am going to ignore it.

Thursday

Arrive home to one answerphone message and 3 emails - all from Sophia. And later, we Skype for an hour. She has booked appointments at the embassy and with her GP. Oh, and she wants to come home next Wednesday with all of her belongings. Somehow Mr A gets cajoled into collecting her, as I point out (again) that I'm working. As she's booked the embassy appointment for the week after I finish work, there's another request for me to go to London, I'm guessing that's so I can pay for everything.

Friday

One message left on answerphone when I arrive home from work. 'I can't come home next Wednesday because...' at this point I'm not listening and that is because I am yelling, 'Aaaaarrrgggghhhh.'

Oh, and there's still no news from Olivia re moving dates.

One question: how can they cause so much chaos from so far away?

For anyone who has kids heading to uni later this year remember the following phrase - 'No news is (usually) good news.'

And yes, I am very happy that it's the weekend. At some point in the not too distant future, I may even get to blog about Paris.

Until next time...

Copyright©2014 Izzie Anderton

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Friday, 16 August 2013

How to Stay Sane in a Busy World

Is it just me, or is life getting more stressful?

And why does nothing seem to go right first time?

We get subjected to inane pre-recorded messages before getting put through to a human and are forced to remember passwords and PIN numbers for everything. From printing off documentation, to reading our own meters - the list is endless.

I'm sure life used to be simpler...

I can't remember my parents burning the midnight oil in an attempt to keep up with everything that was expected of them. But to be fair that was back in the 70s and early 80s before computers and mobile phones were widely available and parenting was so laid back it was almost horizontal.

Meanwhile, I have a 'To do' list that looks like a copy of War and Peace and there are days when I can't bear to look at it. I'm certain for every two things that are crossed off at least three more appear.

My twin daughters received their A-level results yesterday. It was all good news and they'll be leaving for universities a mere eight hours apart in approximately six weeks time. We couldn't be happier. Life is about to take a new and exciting direction and that's good. Consequently, I have a new and very large shopping list.

Mr A and myself find ourselves part of the sandwich generation - having both children and parents that require increasing amounts of support. It all adds to the heady mix of chaos.

As a child I remember craving to be part of the adult world, but now there are days when I no longer want to be a grown-up. I'm tired of domesticity and lists, and wonder what life would be like without them? The only time I ever get a glimpse of the real me is on holiday.

I refuse to be available twenty-four-seven, does that make me a bad person I wonder? I used to have an incredibly stressful job that required me to available around the clock and now I just can't do it. I feel frazzled and worn out and crave time off for good behaviour.

Over the years we've developed coping strategies for when life just gets too much...
  • A mantra - the theory is that if you say it often enough you'll start to believe it. Mine is -  'It's OK I'm a grown-up I can deal with this.' Feel free to borrow it if you wish.
  • Just take one day at a time and don't think about tomorrow.
  • Drink wine, it helps. Although only a glass, or two.
  • Watch a film - funny ones are best. We love Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Furry Vengeance
  • An iPod session - plug in the iPod, blot out the world and dance all over the house.
  • Lose yourself in a good book.
  • Talk to the family pet. Ours is a very good listener and doesn't judge. She also dishes out the most lovely hugs.
  • Keep a secret stash of good quality chocolate for emergencies.
  • Turn off computers and mobiles and let the answerphone take the strain. Although this is getting trickier with elderly parents. We've told them to leave messages on the house phone and Mr A's mobile if there's a crisis and we'll always respond ASAP.
  • Bach Rescue Remedy - surprisingly effective when you're in meltdown.
  • Spend some time outside every day and take a multivitamin with minerals to keep you healthy.
  • Try and think of five things that have made you happy (even if it's been a really rubbish day). These can be simple things like hearing a favourite song on the radio, chatting to a friend, or hugging your child.
I can't help but wonder if the pace of life will ever slow down, but it's healthy to have some coping strategies in the meantime. Be nice to yourself, sometimes you're all you have to rely on.

What does everyone else do to stay sane I wonder?


Copyright © 2013 Izzie Anderton



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