Saturday, 28 June 2008

The Empty Nest

The traffic was heavy and fast-moving along the busy road, as we slowed to turn into the arboretum. The gravel crunched beneath the tyres, as we drove through the tall, black, wrought iron, double gates into a contrasting world of peace and tranquility. It had been several years since we had last visited the arboretum and the large, stately cedar, situated close to the entrance was a forgotten, but welcome sight.

We parked the car and then headed in the direction of the old cedar tree, looking forward to the first sightings of peacocks and bluebells. I watched our 3 young sons, running ahead, chasing each other around the cedar's ample trunk. The peacocks' calls echoed all around us, as we walked towards the bluebell dell, and the boys continued to run in front, laughing and calling to one another. They bent down low, to run in and out of the accommodating, natural dens, formed by numerous, spreading, glossy-leaved rhododendrons. They hid behind large, reddish-brown, velvety trunks of giant sequoia and jumped out, in eager anticipation, whilst we were still nowhere near.

Eventually, in a grassy, sunny clearing, we came across a peacock, displaying its bejewelled tail, and even our young, excited sons stopped short, in awe of the exotic bird, slowly turning and shaking its glorious feathers. When we reached the magical, bluebell dell they were, once again, brought to a halt, by the enchanting sea of brilliant blue, which lay before them, still and undisturbed, bathed in dappled shade. We sat, for a few short minutes, on a nearby bench, whilst our 3 young boys ran to and fro, along the path in front of us, marvelling at their inexhaustible supplies of energy. Slowly, we walked back towards the large cedar, with the boys still running in front, stopping only occasionally, to pick up the odd fir cone from the ground.

In the car, once more, as we neared the wrought iron gates, I opened the window, to gaze past the large cedar. In the distance, I caught glimpses of our 3 young sons, still chasing each other around the tall, imposing trees. Their laughter was drowned by the mournful cries of the peacocks, cries which rose above the tallest branches, to escape into the clear, blue, vacant skies. I glanced into the empty back seat of the car, as we approached the busy main road, and I knew, in my heart, that my young family was lost to me, forever.


Suburbia said...

That's so sad. It reminds me to make the most of mine while I can, so thanks for that.

We are constantly looking forward to their next achievement or milestone, it goes so quickly without us noticing.

The good thing is that you did those things, had good times and so have brilliant memories.
One day you may do it again with your grandchildren, fingers crossed.

In the meantime try to remember the times when they fought each other and drove you mad...then savour the relative peace!!

Mean Mom said...

suburbia - This post has been forming in my mind, since the spring. Our lads are still living with us, of course, most of the time, but we really miss going out with them, as a family. We enjoyed having them as youngsters, naturally, but it was, sometimes, such terribly hard work, that the fun of it got a bit lost, somewhere! They did fight a lot, it is true, and I don't miss that part of it, at all! So, yes, try and make the most of it, whilst you can!

blogthatmama said...

Mom, you've given me hope! You've also made me a bit sad, am switching off the computer and heading straight for the sofa now to sit between them and watch the Euro 2008 cup final and give them both a cuddle

Maggie May said...

That was a very poignant post. I do understand how you came to that realization. Hope that they all eventually settle with really nice girls who warm to you and are not threatened or jealous of you. You will have grandchildren, most likely who hopefully will race in the woods with you! Every thing in life seems to be a mixture of happiness & sadness. Nothing stays the same.
Good post. lovely photos.

auntiegwen said...

Mine still live with me too and are still all at school but I still miss the baby versions of them.

I really do treasure them and I know I will ache for them when they do leave me

Liz said...

Not really lost though. You're the bedrock, the refuge, the safety net that allows them to explore and become themselves. They'll never forget that.

I have an award for you over at my place.

Mean Mom said...

blogthatmama - Ah! Hope that was a good cuddle!

maggie may - I have always welcomed girlfriends and I've never had to force myself, fortunately, it just came naturally. Wish my mother-in-law had been the same, with me!

I do hope that my family gets bigger. They can't even afford houses, at the moment, though!

auntiegwen - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. The toddler stage, in particular, was wonderful. Not all of the time, of course. The tantrums weren't much fun, but the rest of it was great.

liz - They'd better not forget it, either! Oooh, an award! How did I miss that, then? I've been over just recently.

Rose said...

This was a lovely, bittersweet post. My children are all grown and, except for the youngest, have moved out. I miss those innocent days of their childhood, but like you I was so busy at times it was hard to appreciate each moment.
But they do come back, and now I have grandchildren who love to come visit "Grandma." So much of being a mother is learning how to let go...but it's hard.

Glad you are feeling better.

Mean Mom said...

rose - You are so right, of course. I think that I've been graceful in letting go, so far, anyway. It's hard to get the right balance, sometimes. I hope for grandchildren, eventually, but I was 30, when I had my eldest son. I hope that I'm not too old to enjoy them, if I ever have any!

the mother of this lot said...

Came here expecting to be cheered up, not depressed!!

You'd better get the kettle on and try and talk me round a bit. I don't want to be crying when the kids come home from school!

Mean Mom said...

the mother - Sorry! I'm a bit unpredictable, sometimes. This post had been coming on for a few months. Here's a tissue. I've just made some tea. Would you like a cup? I'll try and think of something cheerful for my next post - promise!!

Suburbia said...

There's an award for you at mine, come over when you have time!

Mean Mom said...

Suburbia - Oooh thanks! Coming over!

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

Dear Mean Mom - you are so not mean! I do feel for you, and know exactly how it is. Those are sweet moments we can never have again, but they do live on in our memories, at least. M xx

merry weather said...

What a wistful post! It's good for someone like me with young kids, to be reminded that this time is precious, short-lived...

I LOVE your dolls houses!! How marvellous, so much detail - it's a little fantasy world. The tiny glasses, the knitting, the cup of tea! - Beautiful MM :)

(I find it hard to leave your page you know, can't stop listening to the music!)

Bollinger Byrd said...

They go away but then you get unexpected visits , like this weekend when my eldest came to stay, and we had a Sunday lunch together. Whilst the youngest is in Blackpool for the weekend with two friends. His first overnight stay in a hotel without his family.

It's like them being babies I didn't want them ever to change and now I just love watching them grow and develop.

What you don't loose is the love... that bit stays. You will always be they're Mum.

Mean Mom said...

a mother's place - I wonder whether it is as much to do with menopause, as with my children being grown up? I find myself wistfully looking at babies in pushchairs, as I shop in the supermarket. I can't help but wonder whether it's something to do with hormones.

merry weather - Yes, having a young family seemed as if it would go on forever and then, suddenly, it was all over. It was stressful, though, and not very enjoyable, at times. Looking back, I wish that I had been able to relax and appreciate it more than I actually did. I loved having them as youngsters, but I also worried a lot.

bollinger byrd - Yes, I know what you mean. I feel very proud, on the rare occasions that we all go out together, to be the mother of my 3 adult sons. They are all taking their place within our society and shouldering responsibility etc. It pleases me to see what they have grown into, but I still miss those little boys, at times!!

Mean Mom said...

merry weather - PS I'm so relieved that you like my miniatures! Miniatures are just fascinating, aren't they? Glad you like the music!

Mid-lifer said...

Oh stop!!!! My kids are getting to the stage when they don't like to do stuff with me. I'm already casting back to times when they were little or forward to the future when I'll be devastated by their absence.

Beautifully written and described MM

Jules said...

Oh how sad. i too came expecting to smile.... and I did...... just before the tears.

They do grow so fast..... i need to go hug mine now.

On, and I almost forgot....... TAG..... you're it...... if you'd like.

Come and visit. And please bring hankies because I've just used all of mine up. :}

Mean Mom said...

mid-lifer - It's sad, isn't it? Of course, I would also complain if the baby stage lasted forever!

jules - Sorry about the tears! I am in the menopause, you know! Sad one minute, happy the next, angry the next. It's such fun!! Bet you can't wait, can you? Okay, bringing tissues.