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Friday, 31 August 2012

End of Summer. Altamant Gardens. Unmoored.

The fearsome threesome are back to school. Bless them. Morning TV shows, (Sixteen and Pregnant, Britains Next Top Model, Britains Haunted Houses) must  carry on without them. All summer long they were to be found wandering owl eyed (late nights) in the   mid morning, pyjama'd and munching cornflakes    from  kitchen to T.V  , in and out of a cocoon of blankets on the living room  sofa. The house an obstacle course around fishing rods, kindle, discarded shoes, books, socks peeled from teenage feet, mobile phones, and other electronica which  I battled through on my way to work and back again. How I love the Autumn School term

 AS to them, well the first daughter drifted out of the car, resignedly and  with a distinct air of having other fish to fry, but  like ok so she has to get a brillant leaving certificicate first. Hmmm.  The boy strides off slightly dishevelled but uniformed more or less. My stern cautions are (should be) ringing in his ears,  "exams...he can do it..he will regret.....no one can do it for him.....in later life....etc etc"  "Uhh, can I have a fiver for my lunch" he asks, after an obsequious pause. He has had a good summer. His head is still  in the West, judging the wrist flick on the tiniest watery ripple, watching the line fly,  wrapped in the surround sound of   the whispering   leaves  overhead.  I can tell by the cut of him.  Even while  his legs are carrying him onwards into the junior certificate, the  teacherly exhortations, and, god help us all , TWO  HOURS  mimimum study EVERY night as prescribed.

And the boss, she is starting secondary school. I walk her in, and as we approach the door teeming with her  kind, she turns an abruptly stiiffed face "YOU don't come in with me". She inclines to me slightly. ,  eyes suddenly  stricken,  A Hug?, and pulls sharply back. "You can go now".  "Huh? Oh, Right, See you later honey"  I tell her unyielding back, as she walks away from me, pony tail swinging. . My husband tells me that in my mind my children are about four years younger that they actually are. And that they have one face for me and another  for the world. Perhaps. He makes his own space in the house and has his own perspective. Anyway he cooks me delicious Linda McCartney sausages for lunch, and helps ease the achy sense of dislocation ,of having been let go of, unmoored, by my baby.

We all go to Altamont Gardens after school. It is my birthday and we go every year, on the day. This year my husband comes too. He is as beguiled as I with this place. He knows it of old. The trees, exotic and native, the grasses, the embarrassment of  roses, the fairy tale  lilypadded lake, a homage to nature and devoted gardening. We stand in a line looking at the crumbling house at the top of the rose walk, drawn in by its human face, its air of having tales to tell. The three do a nostalgic encore  of stalking us as we walk, hiding in the myriad nooks and crannys, in honour of previous visits, despite being the size of young giants. I scream, unnerved,  when I come on  the boss and the boy, who  have arranged themselves on a ancient bench, partially concealed by an over hanging magnolia tree, stock still and staring outward in tandem. My kind husband takes my arm  as they  (and he)  whoop at my stricken state. Too easy.

The boy pays for a plant from the plant shop, for my birthday.  "Uhh pick one n I'l give you money...uhh how much will it...... its not to be.... not more than...uhhh".  "€ 8.50", I tell him clutching the most lively dahlia with dark green leaves, and a deep red flower . He grins with relief, his sisters hooting derisively behind him.

We see a sign marked   Adults €2.75,  on the way out (though not collected, at least from us). Also a part of the gardens were closed off today, (the ice age garden  on the way down to the Slaney.)  I explain to my husband that Corona North gave the gardens to the state on condition that they be available  free to the public. He thinks the gardens  are   not very well tended (though all the better for that). This place is balm to heart and soul. Are the OPW and the State in its most comfortable default of    smearing and despoiling what has been entrusted to it,  from basic uncaring  stupidity (or some other calculation that no body knows about?). I am watching them.


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Getting on the carousel.(money counted, chances taken, a little punch drunk.)

We are looking  down a  house move. And to a far province. Which might as well be  a far country, in a way. I am standing on the edge, at the brink, before the jump, because I know when you go you can't stop,  turn,   hang on, wait till you feel stronger.  I am an habituated upper of sticks, a punch drunk volunteer for moving on.  I know how it works. The packing by black bag and box, the canceling  of the utility bills, the re directing of mail, and then you are  Alice through the looking glass,   reversing every single last  thing at the other end.

I want to go. I do. There's  nothing quite as stale and dispiriting  as your default day, after you have baulked. I am reluctant to reap the whirlwind though, because there  is always a price to pay, always, when you have  turned  the world on its head, and you had better have the shoulders to carry it.

We must yet,  before we go,  run the whole scenario by the fearsome threesome. I have played these cards close to my chest,  till schools have been located, a possible date decided on. And then a swift departure planned before they can build up  a head of steam against DISRUPTION OF OUR COMFORT ZONE. Moving Teenagers is a whole other ballgame.  They are   neither child to be brought , or adult to choose. And we will have the new school uniforms, the bolshie refusals, the stuff they can not possibly do without taking up most of the available space in the removal van. The whole supporting edifice you make around your children, to be uprooted, replanted in a new country. So why not just.......stay?

I do believe there is a time to go, to move on, and if you get the timing right, if  you dare,  your courage will bring you growth,  change,   a much needed stretching of  all your  ever so slightly suffocating limits . Life is shift and  change my friends, a fairground trip, and when the carousel stops for you, you had  better  get on board. If you are able.

Friday, 17 August 2012

No. No. No. Stumbling on (single) mindfulness.

"Nope, No, I Regret, Would if I Could, But... nope......No"  I am leaving a trail of refusals  behind  me these days , channeling negatives,  you might say.  A a result of this, people are cross with me.  An icy toned daughter  barely  speaks for days. I have refused a request to drive  across country to collect her,  on a work day. . My beloved eldest  son has cut at me via text, on my failure to keep up sufficent contact with  him, at  a most difficult and  painful time in his life.  He, at least forgives me. The boy hectors and wheedles at my tardiness in sending money (to purchase worms.)  The boss, taking her tone from her sister, has taken me to task for not taking her abroad this summer. " And You have NEVER taken me to London...  yet.... at all". The thing is I seem to have lost my facility for multitasking.  At which I may not have been so good anyway. My husband avows wonder (and not in a good way) at the sight of me cooking at the stove, whilst also, (a) emptying the dishwasher, (b).  laundry sorting  (c)  feeding the hound.  D. directing teenage traffic.  "Multitasking" I say.  "But....but.. that' s no way to treat food, and I certainly can't be expected to put such neglected hastily concocted fare into my body " he says.   "And also,  baby, you may set the house on fire" he adds.

Anyway, recently, I have stumbled on the joys of focusing on the task at hand, it  being  the task I have chosen to do. I am only in my office  when I am in my office, only writing when I am wrting, only  reading when I am reading.  So satisfying! . Who knew! Everyone is a (little) mad at me,but I will live (very likely longer) with that.

Friday, 3 August 2012

To hell or to Connaught, Making time for good fighting.

"You have abandoned me !....Once again......And and I'm not prepared to stand for it.....And I  have things to do over there...." The first and outraged daughter is comfortably seated in her grandparents house in the West of Ireland,   firing of accusatory texts across the country but I am adamant.   No, I am  hardened. She has spend the summer so far drifting down stairs at a late hour, where she can be found munching cornflakes, and watching Britain's next top model (B N T M for future reference)  on a loop, facebooking her friends, and growing tall and sultry in the process. On the plus side she is three quarters of the way through Jane Eyre on her Kindle, which I have inveigled her to read by dint of banning broadband  and  B N T M  for specified periods. AND  she has learned to like it, advancing from "but its in a foreign language" "to, hey its really good...Jane's at Rochester Towers now and it's kinda wild"  hmmm. Anyway, I have dispatched her to spend time with her father and  grandparents and now,  due to  the lack of broadband on tap, and other home comforts she wants to come back. I feel her pain, oh yes, but I' m a little battle weary, needing  some  time to  myself, and her basic inactivity, her entitled indolence  is getting to me. Also, she is exploring alcohol  (on a controlled basis) (ie with the adults,  supplied by myself0 "because I'm  old enough....and YOU do it....AND all my friends are actually like seasoned drinkers". All true. Probably.

 She is demanding wine at the table and hinting at the drinking she might be doing  with her friends, (the seasoned drinkers) if she decided to be frank. I don't believe it. Its like sex, its the ones who don't  boast   you need to watch. I let her have careful glasses of   white wine, from nifty little  sachets I discovered in the supermarket. . Which she insists on slurping rapidly and draining the sachet after,. And looking at me pityingly when I counsel moderation. Anyway let the other half of the parenting team have a go. I have a mental image of the abandoned one boasting of her intake with me and demanding  wine at his  table, as I write.  I should warn him. I should.

Also I feel the need for space for our new(ish) marriage to take.  A surprising number of people have an opinion on marriage and how one should proceed. The recurring theme seems to be that the first six months are  crxxxxp. Or make that a year even. But why?  Because its forever, and you loose all personal space, and the older you are the harder this is to bear, and once the drama and emotion of the wedding is over you each  bring out your auld  baggage   to chill the heart of  the other (innocent) party. Its a little bit of all of that I guess. My dearest life's  companion and I have worked our way through a few skirmishes all ready and are growing  a  bit of a survivors bond (in addition to the love and the  devotion). But, my dear reader, the thing is,  you need space and time in which to act out your stuff,  to work your way like a good dose of salts through the marital wars,.  We can't put our hearts and souls into it whilst  sheparding  the would-be hardened drinker safely  through dinner. "It's a luxury, darling, to fall out and in again at one's  leisure," I have explained to him, having  given this some thought,  "good fighting is trickier than you might expect".  I see the whites of his eyes as he says  "Eh.....  right, .... as long as YOU"RE  happy baby".   Hmmm, love that man.